Quiet Time: The Critical Importance of Spending Time with God

Quiet Time (“QT”): Aka “Daily Devotions”, “Personal Devotions,” “The Morning Watch” – This term describes the practice of having a daily appointment with the Lord, a regular period of communion with God through Bible study, meditation and prayer (e.g., see Seven Minutes with God). The primary objective of Quiet Time should be intimate fellowship with God. It is the vital ingredient which seems to be missing in the lives of many followers of Christ. For many saints, their Quiet Time is more “drudgery” than “delight!” (Ps 37:4) Or they fall into the subtle trap of reading someone else’s devotional thoughts, to the neglect of focusing on the pure milk of God’s Word. There is nothing wrong with devotionals per se, but there is if they are used as a substitute for personal time in God’s Word.

Webster defines necessity as that which is indispensable or that which is unavoidable. While Quiet Time is an indispensable discipline for every believer, unfortunately it is not one which is unavoidable. In fact we can easily avoid a daily meeting with God for a variety of reasons, but we dispense with this discipline to the detriment of our walk of faith.

Someone has described the morning quiet time as “turning the dial until we tune in to God’s wavelength—then we get the message.” (S. Hughes)

Henry Blackaby encourages us to “Try not to think of the time you spend with God as a duty. The purpose of a quiet time is for you to get to know God. And as you come to know Him, you can walk out of your special times with God enjoying a living relationship with Him that you can cultivate all day long — throughout all your life.”

Be still and know that I am God.
(Ps 46:10)

IS YOUR QUIET TIME
TOO QUIET?

A common excuse for not practicing (under grace) the discipline of a Quiet Time, is “I don’t have enough time.” If you are too busy to have a quiet time, then you are too busy! A daily time of communion with the King of kings is not just a nice suggestion but it is a holy privilege which is absolutely essential for every believer’s spiritual growth and maturity! In fact, you know you are in serious need of a Quiet Time when you don’t have time! Jesus speaking to His disciples said “Come ye yourselves apart to a desert place, and rest a little.” (Mk 6:31KJV) The Quiet Time is a place to “come apart” from the world and rest in Jesus. “Jesus knows we must come apart and rest awhile or else we may just plain come apart!” (Vance Havner) When the Bible becomes a part of you (in your Quiet Time), you’ll be less likely to come apart! To be much like Christ, we must be much with Christ. Attachment to Christ is the secret of detachment from the world. And so although we must live in the world, we must draw our strength from outside the world. As Charles Hummel wisely said “Adequate time for daily waiting on God… is the only way I can escape the tyranny of the urgent.”

Only to sit and think of God,
Oh what a joy it is!
To think the thought, to breathe the Name
Earth has no higher bliss.
Frederick W. Faber

Is God calling out to you in the morning watch “Where are you?” In God’s original plan, we see He sought to have a personal relationship with Adam, but sin entered the scene…

And (Adam and Eve) heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” (Ge 3:8-9)

Patrick Morley writes that “Whenever a man tells me that he doesn’t feel very close to God, the first question I ask is, “Tell me about your devotional life.” Often the problem is just there.”

The Secret Chamber – Isaac Watts was a lifelong bachelor (he once proposed to a girl, was turned down). He lived in borrowed (but elegant) quarters. He spent much of his time writing great hymns and, later, influential textbooks. And he somehow balanced the tasks of pastoring a church (he died in the pastorate) and producing a massive volume of published works. He once made this statement that explained the secret of his lifelong vitality — and ours: Abandon the secret chamber, and the spiritual life will decay. In other words, don’t miss you daily devotions!  (Robert Morgan)

Consider the man who had the motto “No Bible, no breakfast.” Now I don’t have a problem with taking in some physical nourishment before you take in spiritual nourishment. But I do have a problem (I am confessing now) reading the email from men before we “open” God’s “email” to me! As an aside, morning may not be the best time for you to meet with God. Just make sure you make time during the day for the One Who created the day and sustains you all through the day!

If you think you are too busy for a Quiet Time, consider Charles and John Wesley’s mother Susanna Wesley, who had nineteen children. And yet in the middle of her busy day, she would sit down in a chair and pull her apron up over her head and have her Quiet Time! When the apron went up, the children knew mom was praying and reading her Bible and they left her alone. While some question the veracity of this story, if true, it is certainly convicting.

RELATIONSHIP
NOT RITUAL

Remember that a daily Quiet Time does not mark the end but the beginning of the day. Don’t fall into the fleshly trap of measuring your spirituality by the number of times you’ve met with God during the week! Quiet time is to be a matter of our heart, not our appointment calender! Our time with God in the morning (although any time can be your quiet time) sets our stage for our time with men during the day. Our time in the morning with God is not meant to be a ritual or a routine but a relationship. We meet Christ at the Cross, and call that conversion. We meet with Him “in the closet,” and we call that conversation. At the Cross we come to know Christ, and in the closet we come to know Him more and learn to walk in the power of His Spirit.

To include the Lord in our
daily routine often results in
seeing His divine activity at work.

Adrian Rogers adds that “Christianity is not a legal relationship; it is a love relationship. And people who are legalists, never have victory. Ten thousand “don’ts” will never make you one iota more like the Lord Jesus Christ. Now there are some “don’ts” in the Christian life and there are some “dos.” But friend, it is Jesus himself, who makes you like Him. You need to spend time with Jesus Christ. Christianity is a love relationship.” (Read his entire sermon on How to Have a Meaningful Quiet Time)

Let me ask you… Does your spiritual life lack power? C H Spurgeon once said that “If we are weak in communion with God we are weak everywhere.” Do you find yourself seemingly unable to resist temptations from your besetting sin? Indeed, our sensitivity to sin and ability to resist it is directly proportional to the nearness of our communion with Christ. Our “power to live a new life depends upon daily communion with the living Lord.” (John Eadie) Have you noticed how quickly your Iphone loses its charge during routine daily use? What about your spiritual life? Beloved, Quiet Times are not optional if we are to have our “spiritual batteries regularly recharged”, ready for the day’s activities! Simply put, we must seek to spend quality time with God, for “Our ability to stay with God in our closet measures our ability to stay with God out of the closet.” (E M Bounds) “If our lives and ministry are to count for anything today, we must solemnly resolve to make time for God (today).” (Vance Havner)

Moses demonstrates the pattern of meeting with God…

Thus Jehovah used to speak to Moses face to face, just as a man speaks to his friend. When Moses returned to the camp, his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, would not depart from the tent. (Ex 33:11, cp Nu 12:8, Dt 34:10)

Comment: In everyday life, friends speak with each other face to face, clearly and openly. “Face to face” speaks of intimacy, not that Moses actually saw the face of God (cp Ex 33:18-23 with Jn 1:18). “Friend” in the Bible is a covenant term (see note #1) and note #2). Even the pagan Aristotle understood this truth writing that a friend is “One soul in two bodies.” J Oswald Sanders once said “Every one of us is as close to God as he has chosen to be.”

Who was Jehovah? This Jehovah Who spoke to Moses from the Cloud (Ex 33:9-10) is most likely identified as the pre-incarnate Christ, the “Angel of God (Jehovah)(see note) Who moved in the cloud (cp Ex 13:21 and Ex 14:19, Ge 16:7; see related discussion: Jehovah = Jesus) (Related Article The Pillar of the Cloud by Ronald B. Allen – Bib Sac 153:612, 1996)

Why was David a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22)? Surely the opening words of this psalm give us a clue…

My soul waits in silence for God only;
From Him is my salvation.

Ps 62:1note

There is a QUIET PLACE
(Play this hymn)

Far from the rapid pace,
Where God can soothe my troubled mind.
Sheltered by tree and flow’r,
There in my quiet hour,
With Him, my cares are left behind.
Whether a garden small
Or on a mountain tall
New strength and courage there I find;
Then from this quiet place,
I go prepared to face
A new day with love for all mankind
-Ralph Carmichael

RIGHT TIME
FOR QUIET TIME

The right time is when you find the time. The point is like the Nike commercial says “Just Do It!” That said, there are a number of reasons to consider the early morning for one’s quiet time.

We are encouraged (actually commanded) to imitate Jesus in 1Cor 11:1, so the question is did Jesus have a time alone with His Father? While the following passage emphasizes prayer, it clearly speaks of Jesus’ communion with His Father which should also be the primary objective of our daily quiet time. Beloved, if Jesus felt the need for time with His Father, how much more should we! (See Jesus’ declaration that He could do nothing “unless it is something He sees His Father doing.” Jn 5:17, 19, Jn 5:30, Jn 8:28 – all emphasize Jesus’ dependence on His Father and thus His necessity to meet with and hear from His Father! And as our Elder Brother demonstrates, we have no less of a need to hear from our Father in heaven. See related post on how to discern THE WILL OF GOD)

And in the early morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there. (Mark 1:35, cp Mt 14:13, Lk6:12)

Compare this OT passage which speaks prophetically of Messiah:

The Lord GOD has given Me the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He awakens Me morning by morning. He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple. (Isa 50:4)

“THE POWER
ROOM”

J D Jones comments on Mark 1:35: I was once taken through the engineering shops in the Devonport dockyard. I saw innumerable machines busy at various kinds of work, most of them making considerable noise in the process. Then my conductor took me to a room which by contrast was almost silent, where a great engine was working smoothly and quietly. “This,” said he, “is the power-room.” In that quiet room I found the secret of the multifarious activities of the machines in the various shops. In Mk 1:32-34, Mark has been showing us our Lord’s various activities. In Mk 1:35 he takes us to the “power-room.” Back of all the activities of the synagogue and the street lay a life of secret prayer. In communion with His Father, Jesus refreshed and renewed Himself for further labour and toil amongst men. “A great while before day”—Jesus made time for prayer! He snatched it from His sleep. What an object-lesson as to the indispensable necessity of prayer! We realize the obligation of service in these days, and consequently we have become very “busy.” But are we neglecting the “power-room”? We must keep the balance true. We must never become too busy to pray…

Our Lord had, according to Mk 1:35, “risen up a great while before day,” and had departed into a desert place to pray. He had stolen out while His disciples were asleep. It was only when, with the dawning of the day, those who had sick folk in the city, and who had not received Christ’s healing grace on the previous evening, began to knock at the door and inquire for Him, that the disciples discovered He was not there. And then they pursued—that is the Greek word—in hot haste after Jesus. Incidentally let us notice what a tribute there is here to the character of Jesus. These four disciples knew exactly where to look for Him. They had already become acquainted with His prayer habits. They knew His love for quiet and solitary communion. And so when He was missing, they went straight to the place of prayer to look for Him. “They pursued after Him.

What an illustration this is
of the difficulties of communion!

“Scarcely can we turn aside,” our hymn says, “for one brief hour of prayer.” Jesus could “scarcely turn aside.” It was with difficulty He found His “quiet time.” Something or other—the clamor of the multitude, the cares of the world—was always following Him even into the desert place. We know this difficulty too. What between the claims of business and family, social and church duties, we have no leisure for the “quiet time.” Every hour we are “pursued” by something or other, nevertheless, we must make time for prayer. Meal times and prayer times, as the old saying puts it, are not lost times. (Mark Commentary-Devotional)

Around us rolls the ceaseless tide
Of business, toil, and care;
And scarcely can we turn aside
For one brief hour of prayer.

Behold Us, Lord, a Little Space

We see Isaiah speaking prophetically of Messiah’s “Quiet Time” – The Lord GOD has given Me (Messiah) the tongue of disciples, that I may know how to sustain the weary one with a word. He (the Lord God) awakens Me (Messiah) morning by morning. He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple (Hebrew – limmud = one taught, a learner- cf Lk 2:40, 47, 52, Heb 5:8). (Isaiah 50:4)

So even Jesus had a Quiet Time which shows us our great need for the same! While He was clearly fully God, He lived His life in dependence on His Father and the Holy Spirit (John 5:19, 30, 8:28 Lk 4:1, 14, Mt 4:1, Acts 10:38, etc) in order to show us how to live our new life in Christ. If Jesus found it necessary (priority, important) to meet privately with His Father, surely His example is sufficient reason for us to imitate His pattern (1Cor 11:1, 1Jn 2:6, 1Pe 2:21note).

Take time to be holy
Speak oft with Thy Lord
Abide with Him always
And feed on His Word

Take time to be holy
The world rushes on
Spend much time in secret
With Jesus alone
Play Hymn

Daniel a man greatly used by God had the lifelong OT equivalent of a “Quiet Time” – Now when Daniel knew that the document was signed, he entered his house (now in his roof chamber he had windows open toward Jerusalem); and he continued kneeling on his knees three times a day, praying and giving thanks before his God, as he had been doing previously. (Da 6:10note; cp David’s mention of three times a day in Ps 55:17)

Elijah had a “quiet time” to hear the quiet voice of God – “after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” (1Ki 19:12KJV) As Adrian Rogers says “If God speaks with a quiet voice, you need to have a quiet time and (a quiet) place to hear Him. If you’re around a lot of furor and hubbub and noise, and somebody is whispering, you’re not going to hear Him. That’s the reason why you need to have a quiet time, so that you can pray, “Lord, what is it You really want me to do?” (What Every Christian Ought to Know Day by Day)

Southern Baptist preacher Robert G Lee used to say “If you wake up in the morning and don’t meet the devil face on, it just means you’re headed in the same direction! (Ed: It follows that we might be better prepared for the attacks from our Adversary and his minions if we first have a Coram Deo [R C Sproul] encounter!)

Claude King – In any relationship you must spend time with the other person in order for the relationship to grow. The same holds true for your relationship with Christ. The most important thing you can do each day is to spend quality time with your Lord. Many people call this a quiet time. (Growing Disciples Series)

COULD YOU SPARE GOD
FIVE MINUTES TOMORROW MORNING?

“Oswald Chambers has wisely commented on the transforming power of even 5 minutes in the presence of the Lord. Indeed, even a short time spent in intercession and the Word still has great value: “It is not the thing on which we spend the most time that moulds us, but the thing that exerts the greatest power. Five minutes with God and His Word is worth more than all the rest of the day.” Now, it may sound like Chambers has made an overstatement. Yet powerful results can come from even a short time of prayer, because God is powerful.” (Dennis Fisher)

J. Hudson Taylor Missionary to China referring to the value of quiet time in the morning once quipped “You don’t tune up the instruments after the concert is over. That’s stupid. It’s logical to tune them up before you start!” Comment: This quote begs the question do I “tune my heart” before I begin each day?

PRACTICE
“H.W.L.W.”

Dawson Trotman, founder of the Navigators Ministry, actually had two quiet times, morning and evening. He had a code for his nightly quiet time: H.W.L.W. Whenever he was with a group of people at night or home with his wife and the conversation seemed to be ending, he would say, “All right, H. W. L. W.,” after which a passage of Scripture would be quoted without comment and all would go to sleep. H.W.L.W. stood for “His Word the Last Word.” This was his reminder for the men to go to sleep thinking about and meditating on some verse God had given them that day. Trotman practiced H.W.L.W. throughout his life as a way of ending a day with one’s thoughts fixed on the Lord and His Word. Are you memorizing His Word (see also Memory Verses by Topic) during the day, so that you might able to meditate on it before you fall asleep?

Rob Morgan comments: Dawson knew that the last dominant conscious thought in the human mind at the end of the day would inevitably simmer in the subconscious during sleep and help shape the attitude and personality of the heart. And he was right. If you want to hide God’s word in your heart (Ps 119:11), go to sleep while meditating on a verse of Scripture (Read Joshua 1:8, Ps 1:2, Ps 63:6, Ps 77:6, Ps 119:97). It seeps into your subconscious mind and helps shape your soul. You’ll sleep better, and wake up the next morning more refreshed. Charles Spurgeon used to say that Bible verses make good pillows. (The Best Seat Is On The Floor)

Stephen F. Olford once said “I want to hear the voice of God before I hear anyone else’s in the morning, and his is the last voice I want to hear at night.”

“Blessed is the day
whose morning is sanctified!”

Joseph Parker on Exodus 34:2 – “So be ready by morning, and come up in the morning to Mount Sinai, and present yourself there to Me on the top of the mountain.” Parker writes – My Father, I am coming. Nothing on the mean plain shall keep me away from the holy heights. Help me to climb fast, and keep Thou my foot, lest it fall upon the hard rock! At Thy bidding I come, so Thou wilt not mock my heart. Bring with Thee honey from Heaven, yea, milk and wine, and oil for my soul’s good, and stay the sun in his course, or the time will be too short in which to look upon Thy face, and to hear Thy gentle voice. Morning on the mount! It will make me strong and glad all the rest of the day so well begun… The morning is the time fixed for my meeting the Lord. This very word morning is as a cluster of rich grapes. Let me crush them, and drink the sacred wine. In the morning! Then God means me to be at my best in strength and hope. I have not to climb in my weakness. In the night I have buried yesterday’s fatigue, and in the morning I take a new lease of energy. Sweet morning! There is hope in its music. Blessed is the day whose morning is sanctified! Successful is the day whose first victory was won in prayer! Holy is the day whose dawn finds thee on the top of the mount! Health is established in the morning. Wealth is won in the morning. The light is brightest in the morning. “Wake, psaltery and harp; I myself will awake early.” (Comment: May these precious benefits associated with arising in the morning hour, prompt us to sing out Charles Wesley’s song and then to rise and meet our King – Arise, My Soul, Arise)

F B Meyer on “My presence shall go with thee” (Exodus 33:14) – We should never leave our prayer closets in the morning without having concentrated our thoughts deeply and intensely on the fact of the actual presence of God there with us, encompassing us, and filling the room as literally as it fills Heaven itself. It may not lead to any distinct results at first, but, as we make repeated efforts to realize the presence of God, it will become increasingly real to us. And, as the habit grows upon us, when alone in a room, or when treading the sward of some natural woodland temple, or when pacing the stony street—in the silence of night, or amid the teeming crowds of daylight—we shall often find ourselves whispering the words, “Thou art near; thou art here, O Lord.”

In fact the Bible frequently mentions other godly men and women rising early in the morning to meet with the Lord:

Jesus: Mark 1:32-39 “And when evening had come, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. 33 And the whole city had gathered at the door. 34 And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was. 35 And in the early morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there. 36 And Simon and his companions hunted for Him; 37 and they found Him, and *said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” 38 And He *said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, in order that I may preach there also; for that is what I came out for.” 39 And He went into their synagogues throughout all Galilee, preaching and casting out the demons.” – And so it appears that Jesus used His time alone with His Father (and remember Jesus is showing how a perfect man can and should live, even through we will always fall short of His perfect example) for meaningful fellowship as well as a time to revive His strength and give Him direction in His mission. We need to see that time alone with our Father is our spiritual lifeline. Even in the Garden God sought fellowship with Adam and desired to walk with him. That pattern has not changed, for He still desires to walk with His children in every part of their life journey.

Abraham: Gen 19:27 Now Abraham arose early in the morning and went to the place where he had stood before the LORD; (Spurgeon’s sermon –The Smoke of their Torments)

Job: Job 1:5 And it came about, when the days of feasting had completed their cycle, that Job would send and consecrate them, rising up early in the morning and offering burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, “Perhaps my sons have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” Thus Job did continually.

Jacob: Ge 28:18 So Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put under his head and set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on its top.

Moses: Ex 34:4 So he cut out two stone tablets like the former ones, and Moses rose up early in the morning and went up to Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him, and he took two stone tablets in his hand.

Comment: Notice that in this passage “morning time” was commanded.

Hannah and Elkanah: 1Sam 1:19 Then they arose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD, and returned again to their house in Ramah. And Elkanah had relations with Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her.

Comment: Notice that a major component of this “morning time” was worship, which should likewise be our practice. Devotional study is fine but may it always drive us to desire deeper worship of the Worthy One! This probably will not be your experience the first time you try the “morning time” but over time, it will become your reflexive response to our Master’s majestic manifestions.

David: Ps 5:3note In the morning, O LORD, Thou wilt hear my voice; In the morning I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch. Ps 57:7 My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast; I will sing, yes, I will sing praises!8 Awake, my glory; Awake, harp and lyre, I will awaken the dawn!

Spurgeon’s Comment: “In the morning” is the fittest time for intercourse with God. An hour in the morning is worth two in the evening. While the dew is on the grass, let grace drop upon the soul. Let us give to God the mornings of our days and the morning of our lives. Prayer should be the key of the day and the lock of the night. Devotion should be both the morning star and the evening star.

Ps 90:14note O satisfy us in the morning with Thy lovingkindness, That we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. (See also Spurgeon’s sermon – The Young Man’s Prayer)

Spurgeon’s Comment: Since they must die, and die so soon (Ed: And won’t we all, when comparing this little speck of time to eternity!), the psalmist pleads for speedy mercy upon himself and his brethren. Good men know how to turn the darkest trials into arguments at the throne of grace. He who has but the heart to pray need never be without pleas in prayer. The only satisfying food for the Lord’s people is the favor of God; this Moses earnestly seeks for, and as the manna fell in the morning he beseeches the Lord to send at once his satisfying favor, that all through the little day of life they might be filled therewith. Are we so soon to die? Then, Lord, do not starve us while we live. Satisfy us at once, we pray thee. Our day is short and the night hastens on, O give us in the early morning of our days to be satisfied with thy favor, that all through our little day we may be happy. That we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Being filled with divine love, their brief life on earth would become a joyful festival, and would continue so as long as it lasted. When the Lord refreshes us with his presence, our joy is such that no man can take it from us. Apprehensions of speedy death are not able to distress those who enjoy the present favor of God; though they know that the night cometh they see nothing to fear in it, but continue to live while they live, triumphing in the present favour of God and leaving the future in his loving hands. Since the whole generation which came out of Egypt had been doomed to die in the wilderness, they would naturally feel despondent, and therefore their great leader seeks for them that blessing which,

Ps 119:147 I rise before dawn and cry for help; I wait for Thy words.

Spurgeon’s comment: He was up before the sun, and began his pleadings before the dew began to leave the grass. Whatever is worth doing is worth doing speedily.

Ps 143:8note Let me hear Thy lovingkindness in the morning; For I trust in Thee; Teach me the way in which I should walk; For to Thee I lift up my soul.

Spurgeon’s Comment: Lord, my sorrow makes me deaf,—cause me to hear: there is but one voice that can cheer me—cause me to hear thy lovingkindness; that music I would fain enjoy at once—cause me to hear it in the morning, at the first dawning hour. A sense of divine love is to the soul both dawn and dew; the end of the night of weeping, the beginning of the morning of joy. Only God can take away from our weary ears the din of our care, and charm them with the sweet notes of his love. Our plea with the Lord is our faith: if we are relying upon him, he cannot disappoint us: “in thee do I trust” is a sound and solid argument with God. He who made the ear will cause us to hear: he who is love itself will have the kindness to bring his lovingkindness before our minds.

Isa 26:9Spurgeon’s sermon (The Desire of the Soul in Spiritual Darkness) At night my soul longs for Thee, Indeed, my spirit within me seeks Thee diligently; For when the earth experiences Thy judgments The inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.

Spurgeon’s Comment: NIGHT appears to be a time peculiarly favorable to devotion. Its solemn stillness helps to free the mind from that perpetual din which the cares of the world will bring around it. And the stars looking down from Heaven upon us shine as if they would attract us up to God. I know not how you may be affected by the solemnities of midnight, but when I have sat alone musing on the great God and the mighty universe, I have felt that, indeed, I could worship Him, for night seemed to be spread abroad as a very temple for adoration, while the moon walked as high priest amid the stars! The worshippers and I, myself, joined in that silent song which they sang unto God—“Great are You, O God! Great in Your works. When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have ordained, what is man, that You are mindful of him? And the son of man, that You visit him?”

Ezek 12:8 And in the morning the word of the LORD came to me, saying,

Hab 2:1note I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me, and how I may reply when I am reproved.

William MacDonald comments: Habakkuk retired to his watchtower to see how the Lord would answer him. He wanted to get alone in order to gain God’s perspective. This is a most important principle for believers today as well. Whether we call it our “quiet time,” “devotions,” or by some other term, daily communion with God is crucial for every Christian. (See also Spurgeon’s sermon Watching to See)

In 1882 seven students (see note below) at Cambridge University became famous for their “Quiet Time” slogan…

“REMEMBER THE MORNING WATCH”

In the beginning of his Confessions, Augustine writes…

You stimulate [us] to take pleasure in praising You, because You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they can find peace in You.

You are my Strength when I am weak
You are the Treasure that I seek
You are my All in All
Seeking You as a precious Jewel
Lord, to give up I’d be a fool.
You are my All in All…
Jesus Lamb of God
Worthy is Your Name.
You Are My All in All

We need to beware of a subtle trap regarding Quiet Times. We can begin to think of our spirituality as proportionate to the number of times we have met with God during the week. If devotions become a chore we chalk up, then we are in danger of becoming legalists rather than lovers. Not only is this legalistic approach prideful, it is the antithesis of the desired effect of a rightly motivated Quiet Time for as John writes…

He must increase but
I must decrease.
John 3:30note

As Robert Murray M’Cheyne put it – Live near to God and all things will appear little to you in comparison with eternal realities.

Or as James Philip said “In the light of God, human vision clears.”

The psalmist extols the evening in the following passage…

Ps 119:148 My eyes anticipate the night watches, That I may meditate on Thy word.

Spurgeon: Before the watchman cried the hour, he was crying to God. He did not need to be informed as to how the hours were flying, for every hour his heart was flying towards heaven. He began the day with prayer, and he continued in prayer through the watches of the day, and the watches of the night. The soldiers changed guard, but David did not change his holy occupation. Specially, however, at night did he keep his eyes open, and drive away sleep, that he might maintain communion with his God. He worshipped on from watch to watch as travellers journey from stage to stage. “That I might meditate in thy word.” This had become meat and drink to him. Meditation was the food of his hope, and the solace of his sorrow: the one theme upon which his thoughts ran was that blessed “word” which he continually mentions, and in which his heart rejoices. He preferred study to slumber; and he learned to forego his necessary sleep for much more necessary devotion. It is instructive to find meditation so constantly connected with fervent prayer: it is the fuel which sustains the flame. How rare an article is it in these days.

KEEPING IT SIMPLE:
HOW TO DO A QUIET TIME

There is no specific “formula” for Quiet Time in Scripture and for that matter the phrase “Quiet Time” is not even found in the Bible. The principle of meeting with God however is found (as discussed throughout these notes) and is foundational to growing in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2Pe 3:16). Modern smart phones have a feature called “Face Time” to make the phone encounter more personal and realistic. As Christ followers we need “face time” with our Master and quiet time is simply one way of accomplishing that end. In the notes below there are a variety of suggestions as well as caveats regarding quiet time, but simply put, we should keep our “face time” with God simple so that we are neither encumbered by even “good things” (Heb 12:1) nor distracted by details. Obviously if we aim at nothing, we are certain to miss. So our aim should be to seek God’s face keeping it simple. I suggest the following as a minimum:

(1) A Bible you are willing to mark in. God speaks most clearly in His Word and we can record notes, thoughts in the margins. It is preferable to select a Bible without notes (lest you be tempted to read men’s words rather than God’s Word – remember your desire should be a face to face encounter with the Living God through His Living Word – cf Coram Deo [R C Sproul]. Sometimes I keep two versions open (NAS or ESV for more literal translation and NLT or Amplified), using the second version to provide insights not readily apparent in the more literal translations.

(2) Prayer – confessing anything unholy that might hinder communication with the Holy One (pray Ps 139:23-24, 1Jn 1:9), asking for His Spirit’s guidance and illumination (Ps 119:18, Jn 16:13), and including a time of intercession for others (Gal 6:2, Jas 5:16).

(3) A notebook – Record passages (eg, one’s you want to memorize – write them out on a small card to carry with you the rest of the day) and insights on passages especially those that convict you and call for Spirit of grace enabled obedience. Your goal is not the complete the quiet time (that’s legalism), but to become more intimate with God, more like His Son, more ready to yield quickly to His Spirit. If you’ve never practiced the discipline of delight (not duty) of a quiet time see Robert Foster’s Seven Minutes with God posted below for his suggestion.

RIGHT MOTIVE
FOR QUIET TIME

A couple who is passionately in love can’t be kept apart. If we love someone, we want to spend time with them. We say we love Jesus, but does our time alone with Him (our deeds) support what we say? “The more any man loves Christ, the more he delights to be with Christ alone. Lovers love to be alone.” (Thomas Brooks) Making time often requires us to be intentional and deliberate. It is easy for the “tyranny of the urgent” to overwhelm our good intentions of time with the “Lover of our souls” and before we realize it we’ve postponed our appointment until the next day or the day after, etc. You’ve never done that have you?

As Spurgeon said “Have your heart right with Christ, and he will visit you often, and so turn weekdays into Sundays, meals into sacraments, homes into temples, and earth into heaven… In forty years I have not spent fifteen waking minutes without thinking of Jesus.”

Robert Boyd Munger in his the little booklet, My Heart Christ’s Home compares his heart to a home where Christ has been invited to dwell as the heavenly guest. He goes room by room, showing how the Lord cleaned the dirty books off the shelves of the study, took down the filthy pictures, how He cleaned the dining room of unhealthy appetites and desires, etc. The living room was a comfortable room with a quiet atmosphere.

The Lord said, “This is indeed a delightful room. Let us come here often. It is secluded and quiet, and we can fellowship together.” Well, naturally as a young Christian I was thrilled. I couldn’t think of anything I would rather do than have a few minutes with Christ in intimate companionship.

He promised, “I will be here early every morning. Meet me here, and we will start the day together.” So morning after morning, I would come downstairs to the living room and He would take a book of the Bible from the bookcase. He would open it and then we would read together. He would tell me of its riches and unfold to me its truths. He would make my heart warm as He revealed His love and His grace He had toward me. These were wonderful hours together. In fact, we called the living room the “withdrawing room.” It was a period when we had our quiet time together.

But, little by little, under the pressure of many responsibilities, this time began to be shortened. Why, I’m don’t know, but I thought I was just too busy to spend time with Christ. This was not intentional, you understand; it just happened that way. Finally, not only was the time shortened, but I began to miss a day now and then. It was examination time at the university. Then it was some other urgent emergency. I would miss it two days in a row and often more.

I remember one morning when I was in a hurry, rushing downstairs, eager to be on my way. As I passed the living room, the door was open. Looking in, I saw a fire in the fireplace and Jesus was sitting there. Suddenly in dismay I thought to myself, “He was my guest. I invited Him into my heart! He has come as Lord of my home. And yet here I am neglecting Him.” I turned and went in. With downcast glance, I said, “Blessed Master, forgive me. Have You been here all these mornings?”

“Yes,” He said, “I told you I would be here every morning to meet with you.” Then I was even more ashamed. He had been faithful in spite of my faithfulness. I asked His forgiveness and He readily forgave me as He does when we are truly repentant. “The trouble with you is this: you have been thinking of the quiet time, of the Bible study and prayer time, as a factor in your own spiritual progress, but you have forgotten that this hour means something to me also. Remember, I love you. I have redeemed you at great cost. I value your fellowship. Now,” He said, “do not neglect this hour if only for my sake. Whatever else may be your desire, remember I want your fellowship!”

You know, the truth that Christ desires my companionship, that He loves me, wants me to be with Him, wants to be with me and waits for me, has done more to transform my quiet time with God than any other single fact. Don’t let Christ wait alone in the living room of your heart, but every day find some time when, with your Bible and in prayer, you may be together with Him. (My Heart Christ’s Home)

May we be ever mindful of Christ’s love for us,
So that our Quiet Time is motivated
By a sense of anticipation and delight,
Not a sense of drudgery and duty.

Tim Schoap notes that many believers are “functional legalists” explaining that…

As functional legalists we recognize and condemn legalism when it comes to salvation, the idea that we can be saved by our works. However, we embrace it and live as legalists for sanctification. Although it is God’s grace that justifies and sanctifies, many of us live day by day relying on our works for our sanctification. When our works don’t measure up, we either question our salvation or our worthiness. We saw this “nobody/somebody” model of behavior in an earlier lesson.

This nobody/somebody “model” works in three ways – first, by causing us to judge according to what we do. Ask yourself these questions: How do you feel about yourself when you miss your quiet time, when you don’t pray, when you pass on a witnessing opportunity, or fall into a “big” sin? When you are less than pleasant with your family, friends? When you just don’t feel spiritual? Now, how do you feel when you have a great quiet time, share Christ with a friend, turn your back on temptation, are kind and generous to all those around you, and you have a plain sense of God’s presence in your life? If you are like most, you fall easily into the trap of feeling like on a “good” day, God is blessing and you are walking in sanctification, and on a “bad” day, God is not only not blessing, but you are the lowest of Christian pond scum! (Ed: Quiet time is to be a blessing, not a burden!) (The Spiritual Life – 46 page monograph)

Steven Cole speaks of another potential stumbling block of quiet times…

There’s a serious danger which both individuals and churches must guard against—institutional religion. It’s so easy to fall into routine Christianity, where you run through your programs and activities, but you don’t live in close touch with the living God.

You even can have a personal quiet time,
but not meet with God.

You can go to church and go through the worship service, but you haven’t made contact with the living God. One day several years ago the phone rang in the rector’s office of the church in Washington, D.C., where the President sometimes attended. An eager voice said, “Do you expect the President to be there Sunday?” The rector replied, “That I cannot promise. But we do expect God, and we fancy it will be incentive enough for a reasonably large attendance.” (In “Our Daily Bread,” Fall, 1986.) (Sermon on 1Timothy 3:14-16)

In another place Steven Cole reminds us that…

Our hearts are so prone to fall into a legalistic spirit, where we congratulate ourselves for keeping our vows, but our hearts are far from the Lord. The main thing is to walk closely with the Lord, judging all known sin and gladly obeying His Word out of a heart of love. If you miss your morning quiet time, your day is not under a curse. Walk with God that day and make it your priority to meet alone with Him as soon as you can. The biblical balance is: Don’t put yourself under manmade laws or rules that have the appearance of wisdom, “but are of no value against fleshly indulgence” (Col 2:20-23note). On the other hand, do discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness (1Ti 4:7note). (Nehemiah 10:1-39 Putting God’s Truth into Practice)

David writes…

For the choir director; for flute accompaniment.

A Psalm of David.
Give ear to my words, O LORD,
Consider my groaning.
Heed the sound of my cry for help, my King and my God,
For to Thee do I pray.
In the morning, O LORD, Thou wilt hear my voice;
In the morning I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch.
Psalm 5:1-3Spurgeon’s Note

As we alluded to earlier, we do well to cultivate the attitude and pattern of David, a man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22, 1Sa 16:7) who alluded to meeting with the Lord…

One thing I have asked (desired as in Eccl 2:10) from the LORD, that I shall seek: That I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to meditate in His temple. (Ps 27:4 )

Comment: If your quiet times are too quiet consider making this your prayer to God, that He might cultivate this desire in your heart (“One thing I have asked… “)

Devotions are a matter of our heart
more than a discipline of our day timer.

Keil and Delitzsch: There is only one thing, that he desires,… an ardent longing which extends out of the past into the future, and therefore runs through his whole life. The one thing sought is unfolded… a lifelong dwelling in the house of Yahweh, that is to say intimate spiritual intercourse… is the one desire of David’s heart, in order that he might behold and feast upon (of a clinging, lingering, chained gaze) the pleasantness (or gracefulness) of the Lord.

Joseph Carroll adds: There you have it in one verse of Scripture. There is only one thing he desired; but because he desired this one thing, all things became possible. This is the mainspring. This is that which sets everything else in motion and enables all else to function as it was intended and to fulfill its appropriate role. If the one thing that is needful is desired and sought, everything else will fall into its proper place and will perform its proper function… David’s desire is an ardent longing that runs out of the past into the future. It is not a momentary thing. Intimate, spiritual intercourse is the one consuming desire of his heart, and it was this that dominated David all his days… At the end of the day ask yourself what you have done with your time. How much time did you set aside to worship Jesus Christ? You might be surprised.

Of course, to worship Him in your quiet time is not the end. It is only the beginning. You are merely tuning your instrument to face the day. We seem to have the strange idea that if only we can have a quiet time, everything is going to be fine for the rest of the day; and if we do not have a quiet time, everything is going to turn out miserably. This is not so. The quiet time should be set aside early in the morning, but it is only the tuning of the instrument. You cannot say, “I have had my quiet time. Now I’m fine.” This is just the beginning, getting in first gear, so to speak. We must walk in fellowship with the Lord throughout the day. C. H. Spurgeon said he was never out of vital contact with God for more than ten minutes! Little wonder that God used this great lover of Jesus Christ so mightily. Like King David before him, C. H. Spurgeon purposed in his heart to seek to be a true worshiper of his Lord, for no man will ever experience true worship in a consistent manner unless he sets his will to do so. (How to Worship Jesus Christ)

Spurgeon: Divided aims tend to distraction, weakness, disappointment. The man of one book is eminent, the man of one pursuit is successful. Let all our affections be bound up in one affection, and that affection set upon heavenly things. What we cannot at once attain, it is well to desire. God judges us very much by the desire of our hearts. He who rides a lame horse is not blamed by his master for want of speed, if he makes all the haste he can, and would make more if he could; God takes the will for the deed with his children. This is the right target for desires, this is the well into which to dip our buckets, this is the door to knock at, the bank to draw upon; desire of men, and lie upon the dunghill with Lazarus: desire of the Lord, and to be carried of angels into Abraham’s bosom. Our desires of the Lord should be sanctified, humble, constant, submissive, fervent, and it is well if, as with the psalmist, they are all molten into one mass. Under David’s painful circumstances we might have expected him to desire repose, safety, and a thousand other good things, but no, he has set his heart on the pearl, and leaves the rest. That will I seek after. Holy desires must lead to resolute action. The old proverb says, “Wishers and woulders are never good housekeepers, “and “wishing never fills a sack.” Desires are seed which must be sown in the good soil of activity, or they will yield no harvest. We shall find our desires to be like clouds without rain, unless followed up by practical endeavors…

We shall not need to make enquiries in (meditate on) heaven, for there we shall know even as we are known; but meanwhile we should sit at Jesus’ feet, and awaken all our faculties to learn of him.

SPIRITUAL GROWTH
AND QUIET TIME

A major factor regarding our spiritual growth is our time in the Word. Peter makes clear the relationship of intake and growth…

Therefore (because you are “born again” 1Pe 1:23), putting aside (enabled by the Spirit, discarding the following unholy attitudes and actions must precede intake of the holy Word) all (just try to do this in your own strength! Surrender to the Spirit’s searching of your heart and enabling power to put off all) malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 like newborn babies, long for (yearn for, pant for) the pure (no additives, undiluted) milk of the Word, so that (term of conclusion – don’t miss it!) by it (What?) you may grow (not know but grow – intake without growth was characteristic of the Pharisees of Jesus’ day!) in respect to salvation (In context this refers to sanctification, growth in holiness, growth in Christ-likeness, progressive conformation to the image of God’s Son).

Comment: Notice that the very thing that caused Peter’s readers to be “born again” (“seed which is… imperishable… the living and enduring Word of God.” 1Pe 1:23-25note), enables them to “grow in respect to salvation.” Simply stated, if you have no regular intake of the Word, you can be assured that you will exhibit no significant spiritual growth. It’s easy to focus on verse two and miss the vital relationship with 1Pe 2:1. If we have unconfessed sin (like those in verse 1), we are not “spiritually healthy” (so to speak) and our spiritual appetite for holy things will be blunted at best and totally absent at worst. D. L. Moody had an excellent practice of keeping “short accounts” with God — Every evening before retiring he would review the day with his Lord, trusting His Spirit to reveal anything that had displeased Him (cp Ps 139:23-24note). Such a man is prepared for the morning hour of worship (recall that “worship” speaks of the worthiness of someone. He is worthy – Rev 5:12note). See parallel passage Hebrews 5:14note. Stephen Olford observes that “It is impossible to subsist as a Christian without one’s daily Quiet Time, because God has put into our spiritual life and nature a hunger for the Word.”

Guy King tells about the time he “lived in a certain vicarage for fifteen years which had a pear tree in the garden; but never a respectable pear did it yield me all that time. I am no gardener; but my successor was – and, strange to relate, he had a bumper crop his very first year! Why? He went at the roots, which I was too ignorant to do. That’s it! take care of the roots, the secret connection with the Soil – the Quiet Time with GOD, and the use of His appointed means of grace – the Word; the Footstool; the Table; the Worship; the Work, “that ye may grow thereby,” 1Peter 2:2, and become “Oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified” (Isa 61:3Spurgeon’s sermon): Not we, but He. May we not be stunted trees.” (Colossians Commentary)

Ivor Powell – Trees which stand on top of a cliff need to send their roots deep!

A B Simpson – Dwell deep in the hidden life of God. The cedar grows more beneath the ground than above it.

C H Spurgeon – The nearer we come to God, the more graciously will he reveal himself to us.

Stephen Olford – God’s best for you is closely linked with this daily meeting with Him. The barometer of one’s Christian life is the Quiet Time. Do you have a Quiet Time, or have you let it slip? Be the man of God who takes time to be holy, speaks oft with his Lord, abides in Him only, and feeds on His Word. God grant that this may be true of you. You cannot tell me you have surrendered to God, that Jesus Christ is Lord of your life, or that you know the fullness of the Holy Spirit unless you have your manna in the morning. May your prayer be:

Help me, O Lord, Thy Word to read,
Upon the living Bread to feed,
Seeking Thy Spirit’s quickening lead
That I may please Thee in all things.
Stephen F. Olford

George Sweeting – While still in his childhood, John Wesley resolved to dedicate an hour each morning and evening to Bible study and prayer.

Warren Wiersbe – I suggest you discipline yourself to spend time daily in a systematic reading of God’s Word. Make this “quiet time” a priority that nobody can change.

Doctor’s say the most important mean of the day is breakfast. Jesus understood the importance of a spiritual “breakfast of champions” and how it even prepared one for the spiritual war each day is certain to bring…

But He answered (addressing the Devil’s temptation in Mt 4:3) and said, “It is written, ‘MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.’” (Matt 4:4note; quoting Dt 8:3, cp Eph 6:17note)

Comment: How did Jesus resist the Devil’s intense temptation? Filled with, led by the Holy Spirit (Lk 4:1, cp Lk 4:14, Mt 4:1) and filled with the Holy Word (from Deuteronomy)! God’s “template for victory” has not changed. Quiet time can strengthen us for the inevitable daily battles with temptation!

Spurgeon: Living is sustained by feeding. We must support the spiritual life by spiritual food, and that spiritual food is the Lord Jesus (“The Word of God,” Jn 1:1, Rev 19:13).

R W De Haan comments: If we have been feeding daily on God’s Word, it’s natural to feel “hungry” when we skip our quiet time. But if we continue to neglect it, we may lose all desire to study the Scriptures. In fact, we may be starving ourselves. How much time do you spend reading the Bible and meditating on its truths? Do you miss the Word when you neglect it? Thomas Guthrie wrote,

“If you find yourself loving any pleasure better than your prayers, any book better than the Bible, any persons better than Christ, or any indulgence better than the hope of heaven–take alarm.”

If you’ve lost your taste for the “bread of life,” confess your negligence and ask God to revive your appetite for His Word. Avoid spiritual starvation!

Break Thou the bread of life, dear Lord, to me,
As Thou didst break the loaves beside the sea.
Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord;
My spirit pants for Thee, O Living Word.

-Lathbury

Elmer Towns – The secret of our future spiritual maturity lies in our daily routine of Bible study.

E M Bounds – To be little with God is to be little for God.

Jonathan Edwards – True grace delights in secret converse with God.

Jim Faucett – It is misguided to think that God will revive a people who find no time to commune with him from the heart.

Dennis Fisher asks

How do we know if we’re making progress in our personal time with the Lord? One major characteristic will be an increase in appreciation for who and what God is. Our personal quiet time should cause us to praise Him (Ed: Cp “A garment of praise [Spurgeon sermon]” – Isa 61:3KJV)…

(Ed: In addition we will begin to… )

• Learn how to pray while “on the go.” (1Th 5:17note)

• Let God into your daily problem-solving activities.

• Acknowledge to others your need of divine help. (Jas 4:6bnote)

• Expect God to act outside your own limited perspective.

• Keep reflecting on a biblical theme for the day. (Job 23:12note)

(Ed Comment: In Job 23:12, he is saying that given a choice between breakfast and a quiet time with the Lord, he would opt for the latter. Little wonder that the incredible introductory description in Job 1:1 is affirmed not once but twice by God Himself in Job 1:8 and Job 2:3).

• Be encouraged by the fact that Jesus has promised to stay with us in all of life’s circumstances (Mt 28:20). (Booklet related to quiet time – Keeping Our Appointments With God)

PRAYING WITHOUT
CEASING

Stephen Olford speaks of a “carry over” benefit of his Quiet Time – :My prayer list is a very interesting one. Monday-Missions. Tuesdays-Thanksgiving. Wednesday-Workers, staff, etc. Thursday-Tasks. Friday-Family. Saturday-Saints (so much of Paul’s praying was for the saints). And Sunday-Sinners. On the list of sinners for this present period of my life… Now, it isn’t the length of time I spend in my quiet time, though I usually take an hour, but there is a carry-over of the activity of prayer, the attitude of prayer, that marks the rest of the day. I never pick up a telephone without a prayer. I never dictate a letter to my secretary without a prayer. I never let anybody into my study or out of my study without a prayer, and as my beloved workers know, any time we get together we say, ‘Let’s pray.’ And so, prayer is literally praying without ceasing (1Th 5:17note). At the drop of a hat…and so I feel I live in that attitude of perpetual prayer.”

In Joshua 6:10 we see that a “quiet time” preceded a “shouting time” and victory over Jericho. – “But Joshua commanded the people, saying, “You shall not shout nor let your voice be heard, nor let a word proceed out of your mouth, until the day I tell you, ‘Shout!’ Then you shall shout!””

David writes…

Thou wilt make known to me the path of life;
In Thy presence is fulness of joy;
In Thy right hand there are pleasures forever.
Ps 16:11note

If we believe David’s words
we too will seek the presence of David’s God!

Henry Blackaby challenges us – If you are not keeping a spiritual journal or diary, you need to. If the God of the universe tells you something, you should write it down. When God speaks to you in your quiet time, immediately write down what He said before you have time to forget. Then record your prayer response. I write down the verse of Scripture He uses and what God has said to me about Himself from that verse. I write down the prayer response I am making; so I have in place the encounter with God, what God said, and how I responded to Him. I also write out what I need to do to adjust my life to God so I can begin to experience Him relating to me in this way. (Experiencing God)

George Sweeting the respected former president of Moody Bible Institute once said that “If we don’t maintain a quiet time each day, it’s not really because we are too busy; it’s because we do not feel it is important enough… There’s an old navy rule: when ships readjust their compass, they drop anchor in a quiet spot… Late nights kill the quiet timeQuiet time is not just a helpful idea, it is absolutely necessary to spiritual growth.” (Great Quotes and Illustrations)

A W Tozer – God has not bowed to our nervous haste nor embraced the methods of our machine (Ed: Or technologically crazed) age. The man who would know God must give time to Him.

Robert Murray M’Cheyne – I ought to spend the best hours of the day in communion with God. It is my noblest and most fruitful employment, and is not to be thrust into any corner.

Martin Luther once said “I have so much to do today that I must spend at least three hours in prayer.”

Steven Cole – If you’re bored with worship or with serving the Lord, you’ve lost sight of the glory and majesty of God. Rituals and routines can be pretty boring, but the living God is definitely not boring! Whenever in the Bible someone got a glimpse of God, I assure you, they were not glancing at their watch to find out how much longer the service would last! I realize that not every worship service will give you a glimpse of God! Not every quiet time will be glorious. But if you’re consistently bored with worship, you probably need a fresh glimpse of the greatness of God. (Serving God the Leftovers: Malachi 1:6-14)

The psalmist writes…

Whom have I in heaven but Thee?
And besides Thee, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail, ”
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
For, behold, those who are far from Thee will perish;
Thou hast destroyed all those who are unfaithful to Thee.
But as for me, the nearness of God is my good;
I have made the Lord GOD my refuge,
That I may tell of all Thy works.
Ps 73:25-28Spurgeon’s Note

Joseph Carroll writes…

The best time to worship is, of course, in the morning, in that time that we call a quiet time. But what is a quiet time to you? To me as a young Christian, in the early years, it was anything but a relaxed, meditative time. In fact, it was a time when I had to get through a certain study of the Word of God and certain prayers that I had to pray from my prayer list. Thus, my quiet time was not really a quiet time. It was a study time, a time for intercession, a time for petition. Then I was introduced to a small volume on prayer by A. T. Pierson that led to an intensive study of the teaching of our Lord on prayer… Our Lord’s first lesson on prayer is found in Matthew 6:6note. He is saying, “The first thing you must do is get somewhere alone with Me,” for a closet is a closed place. A room can become a closet. It means aloneness. A forest can become a closet. The important thing is aloneness, in secrecy, being alone with your Father…

We enter into the holiest, into the very presence of God, by the blood of Jesus to commune with Him on the basis of a blood-sprinkled Mercy Seat (Heb 10:19-23note). That Mercy Seat is Christ Himself (1Jn 2:2 where “propitiation” pictured in the “mercy seat” as in Heb 9:5note), whose blood gives us access (1Ti 2:5). What did this do for my quiet time? It absolutely revolutionized it. Instead of looking at my watch and saying, “I have ten minutes to get through my prayer list,” I simply knelt down and quietly meditated upon the fact that I was in the presence of the Lamb of God and worshiped Him. My quiet time then became something for Him, not something for me and with the worship of my heart—the pouring out of my I heart to Him in worship—came the overpowering awareness of His presence. (How to Worship Jesus Christ)

Comment: Were you as convicted as I was when I read Carroll’s description of his quiet time as “something for Him, not something for me?” I confess that too often my times have been inward rather than outward and upward focused. The flesh is very clever, even (especially) when it comes to “religious” activity. We need to approach the Quiet Time with a Ro 12:1 (note) attitude of surrender to the Majesty and Glory of our Great God. Such an approach will surely change our inward to an outward, upward focus and we will walk away less conformed to the world and more transformed by His Spirit, our minds renewed and ready to test and approve the many options of the day as to whether they are the will of God. (Ro 12:2note). We need the attitude of Richard Fuller who said “Count not that thou hast lived that day in which thou hast not lived with God!”

The renowned Bible teacher Howard Hendricks had this to say about time in the Word…

Dusty Bibles always lead to dirty lives.

You are either in the Word and the Word is conforming you to the image of Jesus Christ or you are in the world and the world is squeezing you into its mold.

The greatest tragedy in evangelicalism today is the many who are “under” the Word of God but they are not “in” the Word for themselves! Being “under” the Word of God ought to be a STIMULUS not a SUBSTITUTE for getting into the Word for one’s self.

The Bible still remains the most sold book in the world and also the most neglected one!

Hendricks went on to answer the question of why people don’t get into the Bible more often for themselves:

1). Not a priority

2). Not considered relevant to our “modern” generation. It’s archaic, out of date.

3). Don’t understand how to begin. People say “get into” the Word of God but don’t tell you “how” to go about “getting into” it for yourself.

4). I’m just a layman, not a professional… you can’t expect me to be able to study the Bible for myself. (Living By The Book Howard Hendricks, William Hendricks) – Highly Recommended; Living by the Book Video Series Workbook 7-part condensed version)

Related Resources: See inductive Bible study

RIGHT PRIORITY:
REGULAR QUIET TIME

When Rob Morgan asked respected expositor Stephen Olford if he had any advice for someone entering ministry (by the way we are ALL in ministry of some type – 1Pe 4:10-11), he responded “Yes,” he said with the same dramatic delivery I head heard in the pulpit. “Yes,” he said, “I do. Never, never, never miss your Quiet Time.”

Rob Morgan goes on to say that “It was shortly after that when another influence came into my life. Through a mutual friend, I had the opportunity of spending several seasons of extended time with Ruth Bell Graham, and she described to us how important the Quiet Time was to her. One day, when I was asking her about it, she said, “Robert, do you have the notebook habit?” I didn’t know what the notebook habit was, so I said no, I didn’t think I did. So she told me about her little loose-leaf notebook made of leather. She said that she kept wearing it out, but she knew a leather crafter who kept repairing it for her. There she would record the thoughts God gave her each day as she studied her Bible. That very day I drove down to Ashville near her home and found a stationary shop and bought a notebook, and it’s been a lifesaver to me ever since. All these years, I’ve used a journal as part of my Quiet Time, and I owe it to that conversation in North Carolina.” (I Need Help With My Quiet Time)

Theodore Epp – SPIRIT-CONTROLLED OR CARNAL? BY THEODORE EPP (Devotional on Genesis 13:5-13) In considering the lives of Abraham and Lot, we see that Abraham’s life was symbolic of the Spirit-controlled Christian, whereas Lot’s life was symbolic of the carnal Christian. Unconsecrated Christians who are living according to the flesh are referred to as “carnal” in the Scriptures (see 1 Cor. 3:1,3). It is never recorded that Lot built an altar. He was not known for his communion with God. As a result, he got into trouble, just as any believer gets into trouble when he does not take time for daily fellowship with God. I am not referring to a time when the entire family reads the Bible and prays together. This, too, is extremely important, but I am referring particularly to your personal time alone with God. Perhaps you say you do not have enough time because you are too busy with life’s activities. Anything that takes you away from this time of fellowship with God is sin. Regardless of how much work you have to do, you can find some time to spend with God alone. As a believer, this is your number one prerogative. The Devil will always see to it that we have little or no time to fellowship with God. But we can–and we must–make time for such fellowship. We must put first things first. “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16). (Back to the Bible)

Andrew Bonar a great man of prayer, had three rules related to our discussion of Quiet Time…

1. Not to speak to any man before speaking to Jesus;

2. Not to do anything with his hands until he had been on his knees;

3. Not to read the papers until he had read his Bible.

A QUIET PLACE WITH A QUIET HEART
FOR A QUIET TIME

Jon Courson writes that…

When I get up before the beginning of the day to find a quiet place with a quiet heart for a quiet time, I find the Lord instructs me about what I should do with my discretionary time. We waste so much time trying to figure out what we should do next. And when we don’t get to it, we feel condemned about it. In reality, the decision ought to have been made early in the day. I’m not saying there’s no room for flexibility, but for the most part, I have discovered that the real key is to say early in the day, “Lord, what do You want me to do? By Your grace and with Your help, that’s what I’ll do.”

And as I do those things, as I come to the end of the day, I realize the sun has indeed stood still. Therefore, like Jesus, I’m able to say, “Father, I’ve finished the work You gave me to do.” The tensions disappear; the burdens dissipate; and I find myself living a life of serenity and tranquility to a much greater degree.

What God gives us to do is doable. Do what our Greater than Joshua did day by day. Before the day begins, find a quiet place and have a quiet time with a quiet heart. Let God direct your day. You will have less decision to make and you’ll be victorious in a whole new way…

It was in the wilderness that God gave manna to His people. And it is in our wilderness here on earth that He daily provides the Bread of His Word, the Bread of Himself. If I don’t feast on the Scriptures daily, I become disillusioned, disoriented, confused. I get mixed up on the days I don’t get away with the Lord in a quiet spot at a quiet time and enjoy the truths and promises of His Word. I think about fleshpots and the bread of Egypt; I become restless and troubled. But when I take in the Word, I find what Jeremiah said to be oh, so true. I find it to indeed be the very joy and rejoicing of my heart (Jeremiah 15:16). (Jon Courson’s Application Commentary)


Max Lucado – Some of us have tried to have a daily quiet time and have not been successful. Others of us have a hard time concentrating. And all of us are busy. So rather than spend time with God, listening for his voice, we’ll let others spend time with him and then benefit from their experience. Let them tell us what God is saying. After all, isn’t that why we pay preachers? …If that is your approach, if your spiritual experiences are secondhand and not firsthand, I’d like to challenge you with this thought: Do you do that with others parts of your life? …You don’t do that with vacations… You don’t do that with romance…You don’t let someone eat on your behalf, do you? [There are] certain things no one can do for you. And one of those is spending time with God. (Grace for the moment: inspirational thoughts for each day of the year)


Finding Rest – He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. —Psalm 23:3

According to a survey conducted by an insurance company, one of every six workers in the US feels too busy to take all the vacation days he or she has earned. Even though studies show that a week’s holiday each year can dramatically reduce stress and the risk of heart attack, many people just keep working.

A vacation can be good for body and soul. But many people don’t have the luxury of time away from work and daily responsibilities. What can we do when we must remain in demanding circumstances?

Psalm 23 paints a beautiful word picture of a caring shepherd, secure sheep, and a tranquil scene of quiet meadows and still waters. But it is the Lord, our shepherd, who gives rest, not the green grass or the flowing stream. “He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” (v.3).

Rest is a place of peace that our spirits find in God. Neither the presence of those who oppose us nor the dark valley of death can keep us from what hymnwriter Cleland McAfee called “a place of quiet rest, near to the heart of God.” Through prayer and meditation on His Word, we can commune with Him. In the Lord’s presence we can experience the rest and renewal we so desperately need.

There is a place of comfort sweet,
Near to the heart of God,
A place where we our Savior meet,
Near to the heart of God. —McAfee

Spending quiet time with God will bring quiet rest from God. David McCasland


Quiet Times – Be still, and know that I am God. —Psalm 46:10

My friend Mary told me that she had always valued the time she spent fishing with her dad. Not being a fishing aficionado myself, I was curious about what she found so enjoyable. “I just like being with my dad,” she said. “So you just fish and talk?” I asked her. “Oh, no, we don’t really talk,” she said. “We just fish.”

It wasn’t the conversation—it was the company.

Did you ever think about how much time we spend talking? In what we like to call our “quiet time” with God, we usually fill in any silence with our prayers. But do we ever practice just being “still”?

God said, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Ps. 46:10). When Jesus noticed that the disciples were so busy that they didn’t even have time to eat, He told them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). When we leave the distractions of life behind, we can more easily rest and refocus on God.

Are you allowing quiet moments alone with God to be a part of your life? Do you desire for Him to restore your soul? (Ps. 23:1-3). Let Him teach you how to “be still.” And listen when Jesus invites you: “Come aside with Me and rest a while.”

The quiet times we spend with God In solitude and prayer Will strengthen and restore our souls And help us sense His care. —Sper

Quiet times with God store up power for future emergencies.  Cindy Hess Kasper


Quiet Time With God – He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. —Psalm 23:2

The word connected captures our contemporary experience of life. Many people rarely go anywhere without a cell phone, iPod, laptop, or pager. We have become accessible 24 hours a day. Some psychologists see this craving to stay connected as an addiction. Yet a growing number of people are deliberately limiting their use of technology. Being a “tech-no” is their way of preserving times of quiet, while limiting the flow of information into their lives.

Many followers of Christ find that a daily time of Bible reading and prayer is essential in their walk of faith. This “quiet time” is a disconnection from external distractions in order to connect with God. The “green pastures” and “still waters” of Psalm 23:2 are more than an idyllic country scene. They speak of our communion with God whereby He restores our souls and leads us in His paths (v.3).

All of us can make time to meet with God, but do we? In Robert Foster’s booklet “7 Minutes With God,” he suggests a way to begin: Start with a brief prayer for guidance, then read the Bible for a few minutes, and close with a short time of prayer that includes adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication for others. It’s vital to take time today to connect with the Lord, who is our life.

We need to set aside the time To read God’s Word and pray, And listen for the Spirit’s voice To guide us in His way. —Sper

Time spent with God is time well spent. David McCasland

If you are too busy for God, you are too busy.


One day I was in trouble and oppressed about many things. It was one of those days when everything seems to go wrong. I was trying to get my Quiet time but was constantly interrupted. Suddenly these words came—I could hardly believe they were in the Bible, they seemed so new to my needy heart—“Grace to help in time of need.” I found them and read them and marked them with joy, and in that moment, the moment of their coming, I was renewed in strength. —Amy Carmichael


Selah – Is it a Musical Rest Note? That is the opinion of many. And this suggestion fits in splendidly with many Psalms, such as Psalm 7:5, and others. There is need in our lives for frequent rest pauses. The daily quiet time is such an one. The blessed Lord’s Day is another. Whilst there is no music in a rest, the making of music is in them, and without them there could not be much harmony. Is that why there seems discord in so many lives?


“This I say then, Walk in the Spirit…” (Gal. 5:16)

Exactly what is involved in walking in the Spirit? Actually it is not as complicated and impractical as some tend to think. Here is what a day’s walk in the Spirit would be like!

First, you start the day in prayer. You confess all known sin in your life; this makes you a clean vessel and therefore usable by God. You spend time in praise and worship; this gets your soul in tune. You turn over control of your life to Him; this makes you available for the Lord to live His life through you. In this act of rededication, you “cease from needless scheming and leave the ruling of your life to Him.”

Next, you spend time feeding on the Word of God. Here you get a general outline of God’s will for your life. And you may also receive some specific indication of His will for you in your present circumstances.

After your quiet time, you do the things that your hands find to do. Ordinarily they will be the prosaic, routine, mundane duties of life. This is where a lot of people have wrong ideas. They think that walking in the Spirit is foreign to the world of aprons and overalls. Actually it is mostly composed of faithfulness and diligence in one’s daily work.

Throughout the day you confess and forsake sin as soon as you are aware of it. You praise the Lord as His blessings come to mind. You obey every impulse to do good, and refuse every temptation to evil.

Then you take what comes to you during the day as being His will for you. Interruptions become opportunities to minister. Disappointments become His appointments. Phone calls, letters, visitors are seen as part of His plan.

Harold Wildish quoted the following summary in one of his books:

“As you leave the whole burden of your sin, and rest upon the finished work of Christ, so leave the whole burden of your life and service, and rest upon the present inworking of the Holy Spirit.”

“Give yourself up, morning by morning, to be led by the Holy Spirit and go forth praising and at rest, leaving Him to manage you and your day. Cultivate the habit all through the day, of joyfully depending upon and obeying Him, expecting Him to guide, to enlighten, to reprove, to teach, to use, and to do in and with you what He wills. Count upon His working as a fact, altogether apart from sight or feeling. Only let us believe in and obey the Holy Spirit as the Ruler of our lives, and cease from the burden of trying to manage ourselves; then shall the fruit of the Spirit appear in us, as He wills, to the glory of God.”  – William MacDonald – Truths to Live By (Devotional)


And then there is the quiet hour. At Wellesley College, in Massachusetts–a young ladies’ college–there are twenty minutes reserved in every day for a quiet hour. During that twenty minutes every young lady is expected to be in her room; there is to be no passing through the halls; there is to be no life of conversation, no laughter. What the young lady does in her room is between herself, her own conscience, and her God. She may read, she may study, she may pray, she may think, she may do what she likes; only she must not disturb other pupils in other rooms. For twenty minutes a quiet time. We ought to have our quiet hour; at least, we will say, our quiet quarter of an hour. (Lyman Abbott, D. D.)


Our ability to trounce temptation is in direct proportion to our fellowship with Christ. If we’re walking with the Lord each day, having our daily quiet time, memorizing His Word, praying without ceasing, and enjoying unbroken fellowship with Christ—if we are abiding in Him—temptation will lose much of its power. There’s no temptation to which we’re immune; but there’s no temptation over which Jesus isn’t victorious. So when the devil knocks, let Christ open the door. – Robert Morgan


James Smith – COMMUNE. “Commune with your heart upon your bed, and be still.” Have a quiet time with your own heart. Examine yourself. “If we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged” (1 Cor. 11:31). The heart is deceitful. Commune with it, find out its motives, search into its desires, and cross-question its purposes. In the solitude of the bed-chamber, and in the stillness of the night, there is a favourable opportunity of finding out the true character of our own hearts. “Prove your own selves” (2 Cor. 13:5). The bed and the heart are fields in which many startling discoveries have been made, many great battles fought, and many victories lost and won—bloodless battles, whose issues reach away into the depths of eternity.


Without – One of the castaways on the TV phenomenon “Survivor” was a 24-year-old youth ministries major from Seattle Pacific University. With 15 others marooned on a deserted island in Malaysia, Dirk Been wanted to be the lone survivor and winner of one million dollars. The “lone” part was the problem. When advised that each contestant could bring one “luxury” item to the remote island in the South China Sea, Dirk took his Bible. “I couldn’t imagine not having my quiet time with the Lord for a single day, let alone 39,” he said. Being forced to eat beetle larvae was not the most difficult ordeal Dirk faced. The hardest aspect of being stranded was having no one around who shared his beliefs. “The other members of the Tagi and Pagong tribes couldn’t understand where I was coming from.” Confronted by the rising tensions of tribal politics, and insufficient food and sleep, he said, “I didn’t have someone I could really open up to and pray with. The spiritual isolation was tortuous.” But Dirk remembered the support of family and friends at home praying for him each day. The day before he left for the island, about 70 members of his church in Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin, gathered around him to pray for his health and safety. “It was awesome!” Dirk recalls. “And it didn’t end there. Even though I was alone and lonely as the sole Christian on the island, I felt the presence of the Lord in incredible ways.”


Sip and Savor – I reached into the cupboard for a mug, filled it with water, then popped it into the microwave. After the water was piping hot, I mixed in a packet of hot chocolate and carried it up to the room where I have my quiet time. I sat on the couch with my Bible and sipped the hot liquid, savoring each swallow. Then it dawned on me that what I was doing with my morning hot chocolate was exactly what I should do with the Word of God. As I drank my hot chocolate, it becomes a part of me. So should I be with God’s word. I should sip and savor, be warmed and fed. —Carole Mayhall,


Postmodern Faith – What we have left is a Christianity of tips and techniques: three steps for a good quiet time; four habits for effective marriage communication. It does not take your breath away, and if Christianity does not take your breath away, something else will…. When you live in a Christianity of tips and techniques, you trivialize sin. Sin is something external. It’s running stop signs. It’s drinking too much. It’s smoking. But God calls sin adultery of the heart. It is what you give your heart away to other than the heart of God.


I have found if I don’t have my quiet time each morning, I tend to lose my temper over insignificant things. Recently, my son, Andrew, reminded me of the need for daily prayer. He had accidentally spilled his drink and I went into a tirade. Andrew ended my harsh words when he quietly asked, “Mom, did you forget to ask Jesus to help you be nice today?” —Cathy Fussell,


Robert Morgan – During some seasons of the year, our sheep drank little or nothing from their trough. We learned that if the climate is right, sheep can go for a long time without actually drinking water because of the heavy dews. When the grass is sopping wet, the sheep take in their needed moisture with their nutrition. It’s a wonderful picture of the Spirit-drenched Scriptures. In the early morning we graze in the sweet pasturage of the Word of God covered with the watery dew of the Holy Spirit. What an apt image of the Christian’s daily quiet time.


Something I Should Know? – He went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Matthew 14:23

During a concert, singer-songwriter David Wilcox responded to a question from the audience about how he composes songs. He said there are three aspects to his process: a quiet room, an empty page, and the question, “Is there something I should know?” It struck me as a wonderful approach for followers of Jesus as we seek the Lord’s plan for our lives each day.

Throughout Jesus’s public ministry, He took time to be alone in prayer. After feeding 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish, He sent His disciples to cross the Sea of Galilee by boat while He dismissed the crowd (Matt. 14:22). “After [Jesus] had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone” (v. 23).

Lord, speak to me by Your Spirit and Your written Word

If the Lord Jesus saw the need to be alone with His Father, how much more do we need a daily time of solitude to pour out our hearts to God, ponder His Word, and prepare to follow His directions. A quiet room—anywhere we can focus on the Lord without distractions. An empty page—a receptive mind, a blank sheet of paper, a willingness to listen. Is there something I should know? “Lord, speak to me by Your Spirit, Your written Word, and the assurance of Your direction.”

From that quiet hillside, Jesus descended into a violent storm, knowing exactly what His Father wanted Him to do (vv. 24–27).

Taking time to be with God is the best place to find strength. – David MacCasland


The alarm clock goes off. Too early, it seems. But you have a long day ahead. You have work to do, appointments to keep, people to care for, or all this and more. Well, you are not alone. Each day, many of us rush from one matter to another. As someone has wittily suggested, “That’s why we are called the human race.”

The Source Of Impact – When they saw the boldness of Peter and John . . . they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. —Acts 4:13

The Nobel Prize is awarded annually to people in a variety of fields who have made an extraordinary impact. Leaders in economics, physics, literature, medicine, and peace are recognized for their contributions. When a person is acknowledged with a Nobel Prize, it is the ultimate affirmation of years of training, effort, education, and sacrifice in pursuit of excellence—investments that are the source of their impact.

We might wish to make a significant impact spiritually in our world, but we wonder, What is the source of spiritual and ministry influence? If we want to make an extraordinary impact for Jesus Christ, what must we invest in?

Christ’s first followers were impacted from spending time with Jesus. Israel’s religious leaders recognized this. Acts 4:13 tells us, “When [the leaders] saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.”

Training and education are valuable in the service of the Savior, but nothing can replace time spent in His presence. He is the source of whatever spiritual impact we might have on our world. How much time have you been spending with Jesus—your source of impact?

In the secret of His presence How my soul delights to hide! Oh, how precious are the lessons Which I learn at Jesus’ side! —Goreh

To master this life, spend time with the Master.  Bill Crowder


Defragment – Cast your burden on the Lord, and He shall sustain you. —Psalm 55:22

Every so often, my computer becomes sluggish. Frequent use of certain programs and documents causes pieces of information to become scattered, requiring my computer to search for the pieces before I can use them. To fix it, I need to run a program that retrieves the pieces and groups them together where they are easily accessible. This process is called “defragmentation.”

Like my computer, my life gets fragmented. One situation tugs on my emotions while I’m trying to concentrate on something else. Demands from every direction bombard me. I want to accomplish everything that needs to be done, but my mind won’t stop and my body won’t start. Soon I begin to feel weary and useless.

Recently I attended a retreat where one of the handouts included a prayer with words that expressed how I felt: “Lord, I am scattered, restless, and only half here.”

King David also went through such times (Ps. 55:2). In prayer, David presented his needs to God morning, noon, and evening, confident that he would be heard (v.17).

Prayer can help to defragment our lives. When we cast our cares on the Lord, He will show us what we need to do and what only He can do.

O Lord, we bring our restless hearts To You in fervent prayer; Now help us wait expectantly While resting in Your care. —Sper

We need prayer the most when we have the least time to pray. y Julie Ackerman Link


Awake With His Word – I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help; I hope in Your Word. —Psalm 119:147

My eyes fluttered open, but the room was still dark. It was too early to get up. I sighed, adjusted my pillow, and hoped for sleep. Unfortunately, a lengthy to-do list bombarded my brain. I needed to buy groceries, deliver a meal to a friend, answer e-mail, schedule a doctor’s appointment . . . .

If you’ve ever been overwhelmed and worried, you know how it feels to stare at the ceiling when you should be sleeping. The writer of Psalm 119 was no stranger to this experience. He wrote, “I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help; I hope in Your Word” (v.147).

God’s Word delivered special comfort during the psalmist’s sleepless nights. Although he couldn’t make his problems disappear, he said, “My eyes are awake through the night watches, that I may meditate on Your Word” (v.148). At night he reviewed God’s Word over and over in his mind. He concentrated on Scripture rather than his concerns. This practice allowed him to proclaim, “Oh, how I love Your law!” (v.97).

When worry wakes you up, remember, “The Word of God is living and powerful” (Heb. 4:12). Select a passage and mull it over. Our cares cannot compete with God’s Word!  Jennifer Benson Schuldt

If your soul is parched and thirsty
And you feel weighed down by care,
Go to God’s Word for refreshment—
You’ll find strength and comfort there. —Sper

Only God can still our hearts and quiet our minds.


Slack Tide – He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” —Mark 6:31

I find it fascinating to consider the pull of the moon on our great oceans, which creates high and low tides. At the changing of the tide, there is a brief period of time called “slack tide” when the water is neither high nor low. According to scientists, this is when the water is “unstressed.” It is a quiet pause before the surging of tidal flow begins again.

Sometimes in our busy schedules we may feel pulled in different directions by competing responsibilities. In Jesus’ ministry, we see how He understood the demands made on His followers and the need for rest. Returning from a traveling ministry in teams of two, the Twelve reported the wonderful things that God had done through them (Mark 6:7-13,30). But Jesus responded: “‘Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.’ For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves” (vv.31-32).

What responsibilities are pulling on you today? It is certainly acceptable to plan some rest and relaxation time to rejuvenate your body and soul for more fruitful service to others. Jesus advised it, and we all need it. He will meet you there.  Dennis Fisher

My Shepherd is the Lord
Who knows my needs, and I am blest;
By quiet streams, in pastures green,
He leads and makes me rest. —Psalter

Spending quiet time with God can bring quiet rest from God.


Time For A Change – There he built an altar to the Lord and called on the name of the Lord. —Genesis 12:8

Many believers long to spend daily time with God, praying and reading His Word. Ironically, they are often distracted by a busy schedule. Frustrations mount as busyness seems to crowd out an opening in their schedule.

Oswald Chambers has wisely commented on the transforming power of even 5 minutes in the presence of the Lord. Indeed, even a short time spent in intercession and the Word still has great value: “It is not the thing on which we spend the most time that moulds us, but the thing that exerts the greatest power. Five minutes with God and His Word is worth more than all the rest of the day.” Now, it may sound like Chambers has made an overstatement. Yet powerful results can come from even a short time of prayer, because God is powerful.

Sometimes our days are filled with busy demands that crowd out time spent in listening to and responding to God. But no matter where we are, any time taken to build our own spiritual “altar” to the Lord as Abram did (Gen. 12:8) opens the door to His transforming power. If you are having trouble establishing a time with God, you could start with just 5 minutes and see where it leads. Our God longs to meet with us and show His power in our lives. – Dennis Fisher 

Lord, it’s amazing to me that You, Almighty God,
would want to spend time with me! Thank You.
I stumble with my words at times but am in awe of
You. Thank You that You want to hear from me.

Talk with God—He wants to hear your heart.


Check The Oil – My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up. —Psalm 5:3

When I helped our daughters learn to drive, I included a little instruction on basic auto maintenance. We visited a local service station where they learned to check the oil every time they put fuel in the car. Today, years later, they often remind me of my six-word slogan, “Oil is cheap; engines are expensive.” Adding a quart of oil is nothing compared to replacing an engine.

Maintenance is also important in our spiritual lives. Taking time each day to read the Bible, pray, and listen to God is a key element in avoiding a breakdown. In Psalm 5, David wrote, “My voice You shall hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning I will direct it to You” (v.3). In the following verses he poured out his heart in praise, thanksgiving, and requests to God.

Many people find it essential to begin every day with the Lord. Before checking email, catching the news, or eating breakfast, they find some quiet moments alone to read a portion of God’s Word, praise Him for His greatness, thank Him for His love, and seek His guidance. Others spend time reading and praying at different times of the day.

It’s not magic—it’s maintenance, as we ask the Lord each day to fill our hearts with His presence on the road of life. – David McClasland

Give me a strong desire, O Lord, to look into Your
Word each day. Help me hide it in my heart so that
I might not stray from Your truth. Feed me and
teach me about Yourself and Your will for me.

The roots of stability come from being grounded in God’s Word and prayer.


World’s Fastest Walkers – According to a study measuring the pace of life of cities in 32 countries, people in the biggest hurry live here in Singapore. We walk 60 feet in 10:55 seconds, compared to 12:00 seconds for New Yorkers and 31:60 seconds for those living in the African city of Blantyre, Malawi. But regardless of where you live, the study shows that walking speeds have increased by an average of 10 percent in the past 20 years. And if walking speed is any indicator for the pace of life, we are certainly much busier than before. Are you caught up in the frenzy of a busy life? Pause and consider Jesus’ words to Martha: “You are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41-42). Notice Jesus’ gentle words. He didn’t rebuke Martha for wanting to be a good host but rather reminded her about her priorities. Martha had allowed the necessary to get out of proportion. And, in the process, she was so busy doing good that she didn’t take time to sit at Jesus’ feet. In our drive to be productive for the Lord, let’s remember the one thing worth being concerned about—enjoying time with our Savior. Jesus longs for our fellowship even more than we long for His.


Crumbs of Time – A friend was coming to town. He is a very busy man and his schedule was tight, but after a difficult day in important meetings, he managed to see my family for half an hour for a quick and late dinner. We enjoyed his visit, but I remember looking at my plate and thinking, “We only got the crumbs of his time.” Then I remembered how many times God gets the crumbs of my time—sometimes just the last minutes before I fall asleep. Daniel was a busy man. He held a high government position in the ancient kingdom of Babylon, and I’m sure he had a full schedule. However, he had developed the habit of spending time with God—praying three times a day, praising God, and thanking Him. This routine helped him develop a strong faith that did not waver when he faced persecution (Dan. 6). God desires a relationship with us. In the morning we can invite Him into our day, and then we can praise Him and ask Him for His help throughout the day. At other times we can treasure some time alone with Him and reflect on His faithfulness. As we spend time with God in prayer and in His Word, we grow in our relationship with Him and learn to become more and more like Him. As time with God becomes a priority, we enjoy His company more and more.  Keila Ochoa


In The Morning

In the morning . . . He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed. —Mark 1:35

Are you so rushed during the day that you find it hard to take even a few minutes to spend with God? Many people set aside time in the early morning before they get caught up in the hectic pace of the day.

I read about a very busy man who somehow manages to find time for giving the day a spiritual jump-start. He’s Dr. Ben Carson, chief of pediatric neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, a position he assumed in 1984 when he was only 33 years old.

Here’s Carson’s testimony about the value of putting spiritual things first: “I’ve found that having a morning ritual—meditation or some quiet reading time—can set the tone for the whole day. Every morning, I spend a half-hour reading the Bible, especially the book of Proverbs. There’s so much wisdom there. During the day, if I encounter a frustrating situation, I think back to one of the verses that I read that morning.”

Jesus faced busy days filled with demanding crowds of people. In Mark’s gospel we read, “In the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed” (1:35).

Do you take time to read God’s Word and pray? Try it in the morning. It can transform your day. Vernon C. Grounds 

In the stillness of the morning,
Before a busy day of care,
How sweet to be alone with God
Through His holy Word and prayer. —Anderson

Let Christ be first in your thoughts in the morning, and last in your thoughts at night.


Oswald Chambers – Morning Appointments with God – 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 in My Utmost for His Highest, entry for August 23.


Ray Pritchard – Twenty-five years ago I spent a summer at Word of Life Island in Schroon Lake, New York. While I was there as a counselor I was exposed for the first time to a concept called “the quiet time.” A quiet time means that you set aside a few minutes each day to read the Bible and pray. The people at Word of Life were so committed to it that they actually set aside 30 minutes every day when the whole camp stopped and we all went off and had a quiet time. We even had a little diary that we filled in with our thoughts and prayers. Some people would call it devotions, others the morning watch. It makes no difference. In the years since then I have been to Christian college, four years of Dallas Seminary, further study at three other seminaries, and completed 18 years as a pastor. I have studied and read hundreds of books on the spiritual life. When all is said and done, I know of nothing more important for maintaining a warm relationship with Jesus Christ than this—a consistent, regular, quality quiet time. I also testify that it has not gotten easier over the years. In many ways it has gotten harder. It almost always does because we tend to substitute our knowledge and Christian activity for this simple discipline of a daily time with God and his Word. I commend to all of you the practice of a daily quiet time. How can we say we believe the Bible and accept its authority if we do not daily spend time in the Word? If you are an elder or a deacon or a deaconess, if you attend a Christian college or if you work for a Christian organization, if you have been a Christian for many years, if you teach Sunday School or serve the Lord in some way, I exhort you not to rationalize that your knowledge makes a quiet time unnecessary. New Christians rarely have to be convinced about this. It’s experienced Christians who tend to drift away. (What Does It Mean to Believe the Bible – Keep Believing Ministries)


Stephen Olford on the quiet time – Daily communion with God is more than a commendable practice; it is absolutely vital to a life of sustained spirituality and maturity. It is the barometer of the Christian life. Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). Read that without the negative comparison, and you will see what man is to live on. “Man shall live by every spoken word that comes from God.” That is not the Bible memorized, nor the Bible on your bookshelf, nor in your study. It is the word that God speaks to your soul in the quiet place of prayer and meditation. That is how man lives. You can be doctrinally correct and yet be spiritually dead. The thing that maintains life is the living Word of God spoken to your soul every day. The quiet time is vital to spiritual health, whether you are newly converted or a mature Christian (see 1 Pet. 2:2; Heb. 5:14).

The quiet time is vital for spiritual cleansing. You are initially cleansed by the precious blood, and again and again you have to return to the cross for restoration. But the day-to-day cleansing is from the laver of the Word (see Ps. 119:9; John 15:3; 17:17).

The quiet time is also vital to spiritual counsel. You can never know the true principles that determine a life of holiness and righteousness without letting “the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (see Col. 3:16; Ps. 73:24).

The quiet time is likewise vital in equipping you for spiritual conflict. The supreme example is our Lord Jesus Christ when He encountered Satan in the wilderness. For forty days and nights He had fed His soul on the book of Deuteronomy, and He could therefore make His sword thrusts from a personal experience of the written Word. Paul later exhorted the Ephesian believers to “take… the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God” (Eph. 6:17). Important as these things are, the greatest incentive to having a daily quiet time is not your need—great as that is—but the fact that God wants to meet with you. Therefore, it is not merely a duty; it is a privilege and an honor. God in Christ has a definite time and place for meeting with you. His heart is saddened when you fail to keep the appointment. He longs, as He did with the woman of Samaria, to drink afresh of your love, devotion, and worship (see John 4:23, 24).

Establishing your quiet time is never easy. I confess quite frankly that it is harder for me to have my quiet time now than it was when I was first converted. The reason for this is that what counts costs.

You will find that the most vicious attacks of the adversary will be directed toward robbing you of that daily time with your Lord. And you will have to guard it fearlessly if you are to keep it. Whatever your sphere of service—as a pastor, Sunday school teacher, missionary, or Christian in the office or home—I give you little hope of living victoriously unless you are successful in maintaining your quiet time.

With the reasons for the daily quiet time, there are some practical and specific requirements. First, you will need a definite place and time. Consider the example of the Lord Jesus (see Mark 1:35). Next, have a good-sized Bible, one with print you do not have to strain to read. Don’t get in the habit of waking up in the morning, rolling over in bed, and with sleepy eyes trying to read a Bible with small print. Don’t stay in bed at all! Get up and wash your face or take a shower so that you are fully alert.

Another essential is a prayer list or prayer cycle—something to keep reminding you to emphasize a different request for each day. My wife and I use one that works this way:

Monday: M is for missionaries.

Tuesday: T is for thanksgiving for wonderful answers to prayer.

Wednesday: W is for workers.

Thursday: T is for tasks—our job at the church or the ministry God has given us.

Friday: F is for our families.

Saturday: S is for the saints—especially young Christians, that Christ might be formed in them.

Sunday: S is for sinners—in particular, the gospel services for which we are responsible.

Then you should have a quiet-time notebook or journal. I believe that the thoughts of every quiet time should be written down, even if only in brief sentence form. God gives you something there you’ll never find in a commentary or anywhere else, and the thoughts are worth keeping.

Along with these tangible items of equipment, be sure to come to your quiet time with a spirit of expectancy. I believe such expectancy has at least three contributing factors. First of all, there is the physical factor. You cannot go to bed at all hours of the night and expect to get up fresh in the morning. Going to bed when you ought takes discipline, and some of these social occasions that you enjoy may be great, but they are not as precious or vital as your quiet time.

There’s a moral factor, too, in this matter of expectancy. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Ps. 66:18). When there is something in your life that is out of adjustment with the will of God, don’t expect to have fellowship with Him. If you have something against another person, leave your gift at the altar and first be reconciled to that individual (Matt. 5:23-24).

Then there is a spiritual factor involved in this matter of expectancy. John 7:17 states, “If anyone wants to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine”; that is, he shall know the teaching. Revelation and obedience are like parallel lines: as you obey, so He reveals; when you cease to obey, He ceases to reveal. My experience has been this: when I find it impossible to “get through” to God, when the Bible has become a dead book to me, usually it is because there was an issue of obedience on which I had not followed through. Therefore, before proceeding with my quiet time, I have to get right with God. (Not I But Christ)


Selwyn Hughes – Organizing a Quiet Time – I wait and put my hope in His word. I wait for the Lord more than watchmen for the morning.—Psalm 130:5-6 – Someone has described the morning quiet time as “turning the dial until we tune in to God’s wavelength—then we get the message.” But how do we gain the best results from our quiet time? First, decide on the amount of time you want to invest in waiting before God. Next, take your Bible and read a portion slowly. Let it soak in. If some words or verses strike you, focus on them in meditation. They will yield up new meanings to you. Write these down. After the reading, let go, relax, and say to Him: “Father, have You anything to say to me?” Learn to listen. All those who hear God’s voice on a regular basis say that it is something they have had to develop over time and by experience. They pause, they wait, and they learn after a while to disentangle their own thoughts from what God is saying. Then speak to God in prayer. And finally, thank Him for the answer. He always answers—whether it is “yes,” “no,” or “wait.” His “no” is just as much an answer as His “yes”—sometimes even a better answer. (ILLUSTRATION) Not far from my home is the River Thames. Sometimes I walk along the riverbank and watch small boats entering the locks from the adjoining rivers. To get into the Thames, these boats must enter the lock and wait there to be lifted up to a higher level. Our quiet time does that. It shuts us in with God. But then infinite resources begin to bubble up from below, and we are lifted silently and without strain onto a higher level. The lifting is the result of being shut in with God. Prayer – O Father, help me resolve to spend a quiet time with You every day. May my quiet time at this moment be the open door through which I glide out onto a higher level of life. In Jesus’ name. Amen. (Every Day with Jesus)


Henry Blackaby writes…

God created the first man and woman, Adam and Eve, for a love relationship with Himself. After Adam and Eve had sinned, they heard God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. They hid from Him because of their fear and shame. Try to sense the heart of a loving Father when He asked that wonderful love question, “Where are you?” (Ge 3:9). God knew that something had happened to the love relationship.

When your relationship is as it ought to be, you will always be in fellowship with the Father. You will be there in His presence expecting and anticipating the relationship of love. When Adam and Eve were not there, something had gone wrong.

Early each day, I have an appointment with God. I often wonder what happens when the God who loves me comes to meet me there. How does He feel when He asks, “Henry, where are you?” and I am just not there. I have found this to be true in my own walk with the Lord: I keep that time alone with God, not in order to have a relationship, but because I have a relationship. Because I have that love relationship with the Lord, I want to meet with Him in my quiet time. I want to spend the time there. Time with Him enriches and deepens the relationship I have with Him.

I hear many persons say, “I really struggle trying to have that time alone with God.” If that is a problem you face, let me suggest something to you. Make the priority in your life to come to love Him with all your heart. That will solve most of your problem with your quiet time. Your quiet time is because you know Him and, therefore, love Him, not only in order to learn about Him. The apostle Paul said it was “the love of Christ” that compelled or constrained him (2Cor 5:14).

Suppose you were dating a person you loved and intended to marry. What is the primary reason you date (spend time with) that person? Is it because you want to find out about his likes and dislikes or family background? Is it because you want to find out about her knowledge and education? Or is it because you love him and enjoy being with him?

When two people love each other and plan to marry, they are concerned about finding out information about each other. That is not, however, the primary reason why they date. They spend time together because they love each other and enjoy being together.

Similarly, you will learn much about God, His Word, His purposes, and His ways as you spend time with Him. You will come to know Him during the day as you experience Him working in and through your life. Learning about Him is not, however, why you should want to have a quiet time with Him. The more you know Him and experience His love, the more you will love Him. Then you will want that time alone with Him because you do love Him and enjoy His fellowship. (Experiencing God Knowing and Doing the Will of God, Revised and Expanded Henry Blackaby, Richard Blackaby, Claude King)


Wayne Barber speaks of the value of a quiet time in our ongoing battle with the lusts of our fallen flesh…

You had better learn this: don’t focus on the sin! Focus on the Savior who has conquered the sin! And learn! Train your senses to line up under Him. Accommodate yourself to Him. Put yourself where you can be influenced by the Spirit and not influenced by the flesh. This is why it’s so important to have a quiet time. Quiet times have been used and abused over the years.

A quiet time is not to make you spiritual.

It just helps you start your day by putting yourself in the right place. Then all day long you begin to fellowship with Him. That’s all it is! It’s just a discipline. It’s not going to make you more spiritual at all. What prayer is and what Scriptures are and what praise is all about is the atmosphere we put ourselves in so that we can be drawn closer and so that the Spirit now can be accommodated instead of accommodating my flesh! I’ve learned now to accommodate my spirit. That’s what we are trying to say. I’m learning, too. (Romans 612-14)


Steven Cole asks…

Do you often make time to spend with the Lord? It’s sure easy for that first love to cool off, and time between you and the Lord gets squeezed out with other things. Or, it becomes your duty to have a quiet time, so you get out your Bible, grimace, and swallow a chapter a day to keep the devil away. But there wasn’t any love in it (cf Rev 2:4, 1Jn 4:10, Ge 3:8-9). You weren’t seeking to know Christ in a more intimate way. You weren’t opening your heart to Him, so that He could confront you and cleanse you and make you more like Himself. There’s no closeness, no intimacy. (Knowing Christ and Being Like Him)

Talk with us, Lord, Thyself reveal,
While here on earth we rove;
Speak to our hearts, and let us feel
The kindling of Thy love.
Charles Wesley


Ron Mattoon tells a story that relates to having a quiet heart during our Quiet Time

In the book “Directions,” James Hamilton writes: Before refrigerators, people used icehouses to preserve their food. Icehouses had thick walls, no windows, and a tightly fitted door. In winter, when streams and lakes were frozen into silver-gray pathways, large blocks of ice were cut, hauled to the icehouses, and covered with golden sawdust. Often the ice would last well into the summer. One man lost a valuable watch in this sawdust while working in an icehouse. He searched diligently for it carefully raking through the sawdust, but didn’t find it. His fellow workers also looked, but their efforts, too, proved futile.

A small boy who heard about the fruitless search slipped into the icehouse during the noon hour and soon emerged with the watch. Amazed, the men asked him how he found it. The boy replied, “I closed the door, laid down in the sawdust, and kept very still. Soon I heard the watch ticking.”

Beloved, often the question is not whether God is speaking but whether we are being still enough, and quiet enough, to hear what He has to say to us. Be still and get God’s direction for your life! (Ps 4:4, Ps 63:6) (Luke Commentary)

The knowledge of the book is not as important…
as knowing the Author of the book.


Skip Heitzig – Devotional Bible study is the process of reflecting on a few verses or a passage of Scripture and making a personal application. Many Christians refer to this worshipful way of reflecting on the Scriptures as “having a quiet time” or “having devotions.” Although devotional study is not primarily an academic approach to the Bible, it doesn’t mean that we bypass observation or interpretation on our way to application. Instead, we are simply endeavoring to encounter God on the holy ground of His word by “stepping through the veil” into His presence to commune with Him. Devotional study is a peaceful and reassuring way to begin or end your day. Rather than examining the Bible as simply a textbook, as we might in school, devotional study focuses on seeking the Lord and desiring to know His will as it applies to us. The knowledge of the book is not as important in this method as knowing the Author of the book. Time spent in devotional Bible study becomes a joyful rendezvous with God. (How to Study the Bible and Enjoy It)


Mark 1:35 Early in the Morning  (My All in All – Robert J Morgan) In college I discovered the habit of rising early to hear His voice. My school required students to rise at 6:15, and, after showering and dressing, to devote a half hour to personal devotions before breakfast. I resisted at first, but it gradually became an ingrained habit. British army chaplain Bishop Taylor Smith testified, “As soon as I awake each morning, I rise from bed at once. I dress promptly. I wash myself, shave, and comb my hair. Then fully attired, wide-awake and properly groomed, I go quietly to my study. There, before God Almighty and Christ my King, I humbly present myself as a loyal subject to my Sovereign, ready and eager to be of service to Him for the day.”

  •  Early in the morning Abraham went to the place where he had stood before the Lord.   Genesis 19:27
  • Early in the morning Jacob took the stone that was near his head and set it up as a marker. He poured oil on top of it and named the place Bethel.  Genesis 28:18-19
  • Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, He got up, went out, and made His way to a deserted place. And He was praying there.   Mark 1:35
  • Very early in the morning, on the first day of the week, they went to the tomb at sunrise.  Mark 16:2
  • Early in the morning my song shall rise to Thee.—Reginald Heber (Pause and sing this hymn to Him in spirit and in truth!)

Greg Ogden in his excellent book on Biblical Discipleship has the following guidelines…

A daily quiet time is a private meeting each day between a disciple and the Lord Jesus Christ. It should not be impromptu. We can commune with the Lord on a spur-of-the-moment basis many times each day, but a quiet time is a period of time we set aside in advance for the sole purpose of a personal meeting with our Savior and Lord.

A daily quiet time consists of at least three components.

Reading the Bible with the intent not just to study but to meet Christ through the written Word.

(Ed: One caution – while you might occasionally use devotional books to augment your Quiet Time, you want to keep these resources to a bare minimum. Why? Because even excellent, inspirational as devotionals like “Our Daily Bread” [Radio Bible Class] or “My Utmost for His Highest” [Oswald Chamber’s devotional] are not the pure milk of God’s Word, but are the words others have gleaned from the pure Word. Your goal is communion with God Himself and this is achieved primarily by going directly to the Word He has spoken to you in the Holy Scriptures. God has promised to bless His word, not the words about His Word!)

Meditating on what we have read so that biblical truth begins to saturate our minds, emotions and wills. “Meditate on [the Book of the Law] day and night” (Joshua 1:8).

Praying to (communing with) God: praising, thanking and adoring him as well as confessing our sins, asking him to supply our needs and interceding for others.

Why Is It Important? – Why should we have a daily quiet time? There are at least three reasons.

It pleases the Lord. Even if there were no other consequences, this would be sufficient reason for private daily communion with God.

Of all the Old Testament sacrifices there was only one that was daily—the continual burnt offering. What was its purpose? Not to atone for sin but to provide pleasure (a sweet-smelling aroma) to the Lord. The New Testament directs us to continually offer up a sacrifice of praise to God, “the fruit of lips that confess his name” (Hebrews 13:15). It may astonish us to realize that God is seeking people who will do just that: “They are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks” (John 4:23). One indicator of the depth of our relationship with the Lord is our willingness to spend time alone with him not primarily for what we get out of it but for what it means to him as well.

We receive benefits. The psalmist had this in mind when he wrote, “As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God” (Psalm 42:1-2). We benefit from a quiet time in several ways.

Information. We learn about Christ and his truths when we spend time with him and his Word. Before we can obey him we need to know what he commands. Before we can understand what life is all about we need to know what he has taught.

Encouragement. At times we get discouraged. There is no better source for inspiration than the Lord Jesus Christ.

Power. Even when we know what we should be and do we lack the strength to be that kind of person and do those kinds of works. Christ is the source of power, and meeting with him is essential to our receiving it.

Pleasure. Being alone with the person we love is enjoyable, and as we spend time with Christ we experience a joy unavailable anywhere else.

Jesus had a quiet time. “Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35). If our Lord found it necessary to meet privately with his Father, surely his example gives us a good reason to do likewise. The question is whether we will be mediocre Christians or growing Christians. A major factor in determining the answer is whether or not we develop the discipline of a daily quiet time.

How to Begin – Once you desire to begin a daily quiet time, what can you do to start?

First, remember the principle of self-discipline: do what you should do when you should, the way you should, where you should and for the correct reasons. In other words, self-discipline is the wise use of your personal resources (such as time and energy).

(Ed: Fisher writes: I knew a student a number of years ago who was an excellent writer. The problem was that he always turned in his papers late. Why? “If I can’t do it right, I won’t do it!” was his response. His commitment to perfectionism led him down a path of inconsistency. This is a common problem in maintaining a quiet time. It is a “throwing the baby out with the bath water” mentality. It is the “all or nothing” approach to a devotional life. But in a realistic sense, daily devotions are about progress more than perfection. It’s better for us to have a shorter and even less meaningful devotional time on a given day than it is to skip it in the name of high standards.)

Second, set aside time in advance for your quiet time. A daily quiet time should take place each day at the time when you are most alert. For some this will be in the morning, perhaps before breakfast; for others it will be another time of the day or evening. Though it is not a hard and fast rule, the morning is a preferable time since it begins before the rush of thoughts and activities of the day. An orchestra does not tune its instruments after the concert.

How much time should you spend? This will vary from person to person, but a good plan to follow is to start with ten minutes a day and build up to approximately thirty minutes. This regularly scheduled chunk of time can be a major factor in strengthening self-discipline. Here’s a suggestion: pause while reading this and make a decision—now—about when and for how long, beginning tomorrow, you will meet the Lord Jesus Christ for a daily quiet time.

(Ed: Fisher writes “When I was taking classical guitar lessons, the instructor told me, “It’s better to practice 15 minutes a day every day, and then to practice for several hours on only a few days.” He was right, especially when it comes to establishing new habits.”)

Third, plan ahead. Go to bed early enough so that you can awaken in a refreshed condition to meet Christ. The battle for the daily quiet time is often lost the night before. Staying up too late hampers our alertness, making us bleary-eyed and numb as we meet the Lord, or else we oversleep and skip the quiet time altogether.

Fourth, make your quiet time truly a quiet time. Psalm 46:10 speaks to this: “Be still, and know that I am God.” Turn off your radio or television. Find as quiet a place as possible and make sure your location and position are conducive to alertness. Get out of bed. Sit erect. If you are stretched out in bed or reclining in a chair that is too comfortable you might be lulled into drowsiness.

(Ed: We all concentrate or are distracted in different ways. C. S. Lewis brings up a surprising suggestion in his book Letters To Malcolm. His admonition on the “quiet time” is to make sure we have “just the right amount of distraction” to help us concentrate. Lewis tells the story of a man who would have his devotional time in a railway compartment because complete silence left him open to inner distractions. Ironically, his focus was enhanced when it was challenged just slightly.)

Fifth, pray as you start your time with God. Ask the Holy Spirit to control your investment of time and to guide your praising, confessing, thanking, adoring, interceding, petitioning and meditating, as well as to help you get into the Bible. Open your mind and heart to Scripture.

Sixth, keep a notebook handy. Write down ideas you want to remember and questions you can’t answer. Expression deepens impression—and writing is a good mode of expression.

(Ed: W G T Shedd once said “It is not sufficient to commune with the truth, for truth is impersonal. We must commune with the God of truth.” Although our Quiet Time is not to be a study time per se, our reading and understanding of what God is saying in His Scripture and hence our communion with Him can be greatly enhanced by practicing simple inductive Bible study techniques and you don’t have to be a seasoned inductive student to accomplish this end. Take time to make simple observations [See discussion of the basics of observation], learning especially to ask the 5W/H questions of the terms of conclusion, terms of explanation, terms of contrast, and terms of comparison] which will slow you down and facilitate meditation on the text, allowing your Teacher the Spirit to lead you into the truth. As you engage in “active” rather than “passive” reading, you will be amazed at what God is able to say as you invest the time to slow down and “listen. Take time to chew the cud of God’s Word – cp Jer 15:16)

Last, share your plans and goals with a friend. Tell him or her you are trying to develop the discipline of a daily quiet time. Request his or her prayer that God will enable you to succeed with your objectives.

(Ed: Most importantly, when you leave your “Quiet Time,” don’t let your “Quiet Time” leave you ! In other words, as you enter the busyness of your day, remember to mentally take with you the truths God has spoken to your soul during your time of blessed communion with Him! Consciously recall specifics of your time of communion with God [passages, insights, prayers, etc] at various intervals during the day. As you begin to practice the conscious choice to reflect on your earlier time of meeting with God, you are more likely to find that the rest of your day becomes an ongoing experience of the presence of the Living God. As Frank Gaebelein said “A test of Christian devotion is the extent to which, in happiness as well as in sorrow, we think of Jesus.” Vance Havner said it this way “It is tragic to go through our days making Christ the subject of our study but not the sustenance of our souls.”)

When Problems Arise (Ed: Expect them to arise!). Below are some common problems you might encounter.

I know I ought to have a daily quiet time, but I don’t want to. Solution: Ask the Holy Spirit to plant within you the desire to have a daily quiet time. Nobody else can do this for you. You cannot generate the desire, and no other person can produce it for you. (Ed: See Php 2:13NLTnote)

I don’t feel like having a daily quiet time today. Solution: Have your quiet time anyway and honestly admit to Christ that you don’t feel like meeting him but that you know he nevertheless is worth the investment of your time. Ask him to improve your feelings and try to figure out why you feel this way. Then work on the factors that produce such failings.

My mind wanders. Solution: Ask the Holy Spirit to give you strength to set your mind on Christ and his Word. Use your self-discipline to direct your mind so that it wanders less and less. If you are in a quiet place, singing, praying and reading out loud will give a sense of dialogue. Your mind will wander less when you write things down, like making an outline for prayer or study notes while reading the Bible.

I miss too many quiet times. Solution: Ask the Lord to strengthen your desire and to give you power to discipline your use of time. Share with another Christian friend your desire to have a daily quiet time and allow your friend to hold you accountable for it. Don’t let an overactive conscience or the accusations of the devil play on your guilt. Confess that you have failed to keep your appointment with Jesus, ask his forgiveness and renew your relationship.

My daily quiet time is a drag. Solution: Pray that the joy of the Lord would be restored to your private meeting with Christ (Psalm 51:12). Put some variety into your approach. Sing a hymn for a change, or try a different form of Bible study.

There are two major reasons it is so difficult to develop the discipline of a daily quiet time.

First is the influence of the flesh. Keep in mind that your old nature is opposed to daily quiet time (and to every other discipline that would please Christ; see Galatians 5:16-17). Pray that the Holy Spirit will enable your new nature to overcome your old nature in this battle.

The second reason is resistance by Satan. The devil opposes your every effort to please Christ. His strategy is to rob you of daily quiet time joy, to complicate your time schedule by keeping you up late at night and making it hard for you to get up in the morning, to make you drowsy during your time with the Lord, to make your mind wander, and otherwise to disrupt your meeting with Christ. Ask the Holy Spirit to restrain the devil.

Do It Now! – Plan now for your daily quiet time tomorrow—and every tomorrow. If you miss a morning, do not quit. Deny the devil the pleasure of defeating you. Ask the Lord to forgive you for missing the meeting and to help you make it next time. You will doubtless miss several times, and it will take repeated beginnings before you succeed in developing this discipline. Indeed, it takes some people months to mature to the point where they develop the habit of a daily quiet time. For some it is a lifelong battle. In any case, don’t quit when you miss. With God’s help determine that you will grow to be a committed disciple who meets Christ regularly in meaningful daily quiet times. (Discipleship Essentials A Guide to Building Your Life in Christ by Greg OgdenHighly Recommended read!)

Anne Ortlund’s testimony on the value of a Quiet Time

Ten months after Ray and I were married we had baby Sherry. Eleven and a half months later we had Margie. Seventeen months later we had Buddy. And immediately after that, Ray had a shrew for a wife. My problem wasn’t Ray or the babies; all four were adorable! My problem was no quiet time, no focus. My eyes weren’t fixed on Jesus, they were fixed on what I had to do. A work-centered life gets complex, and it leads to burnout. A Christ-centered life — even in the midst of work — stays basically simple, nourished and rested…

Fix your eyes on Jesus! Like Mary, focus; that’s what I had to learn. Become a “one-thing” person (Luke 10:42). How do you do this? First, begin to develop the habit of continual fellowship with Him (see chapter 18) in the midst of it all. Second, determine to give Him the sacrifice of a regular “quiet time“. Yes, it will be a true sacrifice. (“You will never find time for anything,” says Charles Bixton. “If you want time you must make it.”)

Cartoon seen recently: A fellow is listening uncertainly as a recorded voice says out of his telephone receiver, “Your number cannot be completed as dialed. Please check the number you are calling and dial again. Or ask yourself if talking to another person is what you really need at this moment!” Sometimes your need is just to be quiet. At least once a day, you need to back off from all the other voices and hear only His. It needs to be a long enough time to be meaningful — to express your love, confess your sins, receive guidance, delight in Him, listen. I have an electric toothbrush, and I don’t take it with me to conferences because it needs frequent plugging into the socket to get re-juiced. And you and I can’t go anywhere for very long without the sacrifice of times of quiet with God to get restored again. I said sacrifice. A thirty-ish woman said to me at a conference two days ago, “There’s no way I can have a daily quiet time. I have five small children who take everything I’ve got, and then I work every day from four to midnight.” As I questioned her, I discovered she has a working husband and almost no debts. She stood there, weepy, overweight, defeated. It would mean true sacrifice for her to add time with the Lord to her exhausting days. But until she does, she may not hear His solutions and so she’ll spiral ever farther downward. Whatever your circumstances — if you’d lived in Old Testament times you would have regularly given God a male animal or bird — whatever you could afford — that had no defects: something you’d humanly want or even “need” for yourself. If you’re stressed out from a tight schedule, offer God the sacrifice of your time. If you love to be with people, give Him the sacrifice of your solitude. If you’re not very excited yet about Bible reading and prayer, lift up to Him the sacrifice of your surrendered will. And when you sit down or kneel to be with Him, what do you do? No two people will have quiet times just alike, but first decide on a time, a place, and a plan — and stick to it. Since the children were in school, except when I’m conference speaking, I’ve chosen mid-mornings — my high-energy time. I have with me my Bible, my notebook, and a pen (To continue reading click the following link). (Fix Your Eyes On Jesus — Anne Ortlund)


Rick Blackwood on how he prepares his sermons – Let It Overflow From Your Quiet Time – For me, everything I teach is the overflow of my quiet time before God. In the early hours of the morning before my family awakens, I get alone before God, and it is there that he impresses in my heart about what I should teach. Even though I generally teach through books of the Bible, it is in my quiet time that God gives me insight into the Big Idea of the sermon series that I extract from his Word. When I teach courses on preaching and teaching, I always talk first about the need for quiet time. People often ask me, “Where do you get your ideas and illustrations?” Sometimes, there is no rhyme or reason to it. I can only say that in my time alone with God, incredible thoughts pass from his heart into my heart, and I write them down. I always have a pad and pen in my quiet time, because I don’t want to miss what God gives me. It works for me; it will work for you (The Power of Multi-Sensory Preaching and Teaching)

A PRACTICAL
PLAN

Pastor Rob Morgan offers us a practical plan for our Quiet Time “How do we do it?”…

(1) First, remember the purpose of the Quiet Time.

It is essentially a conversation, a time of fellowship, a daily meeting or appointment with the Lord. It isn’t a complicated thing, and the simpler we can keep it the better. It isn’t even always necessary to have a Bible. Sometimes it’s nice just to go for a walk and spend some time meditating on some verse of Scripture and thinking it through, and then talking to the Lord about it and praying over the things that concern you. Usually, however, it’s very helpful to have a Bible, preferably a new translation. And remember that you aren’t reading your Bible to get through a certain amount of Scripture or to prepare a sermon or to develop a Sunday School or Bible Study lesson. You’re going to the Bible in order to find nourishment for your soul. Psalm 37:3-4 puts it very well when it says: “Feed on His faithfulness. Delight yourself also in the Lord.” That’s a good definition of the Quiet Time.

(2) Second, have a procedure for your Quiet Time.

I like to follow a two-step plan. First, I open God’s Word and, after a brief prayer asking for His blessing, I start reading where I left off the day before. I don’t try to read a certain number of verses or chapters; I just read until I find a verse that speaks to me. Right now I’m reading through the Gospel of John. It may take me a couple of weeks or a couple of months, but I’m in no hurry. I just begin reading today where I left off yesterday, and I look for that verse to underline as my verse for the day. Then I begin praying at the point of that verse, and move into a time of prayer. For example, my verse this morning was John 1:43: “Follow Me.” I began praying at that point and I said, “Lord, help me follow You more closely,” and then I prayed for my loved ones that they would follow the Lord, and from there I went into a time of prayer. So that’s the essence of it—a time of Bible reading and meditation followed by a time of prayer. It’s a conversation. The Lord speaks to me through His Word, then I speak to Him in prayer. And it’s through this sort of daily conversation that we get to know Him better.

(3) Third, use a pen.

As I said earlier, I like to keep a little notebook. It’s divided into two parts. The first part is my journal. Every morning I come to my desk fairly early. I have a cup of coffee and my Bible, and I open my journal and put down the date. Then I might or might not write something about my day or how I’m feeling. Usually I make a little entry of some kind. But then I just put down the Scripture reference that I’m reading, and as I read through the passage I make notes. I find this an enormous help.

For example, one day this week I came to the passage in John 1 in which John the Baptist introduced Jesus to the crowds at the River Jordan. I read the paragraph several times, but it just didn’t seem to register with me. I felt I was brain-dead. I just didn’t get much out of it. So I decided to make a little list of everything that John said on that occasion about Jesus, and, putting pen to paper, I developed a list of five things about Jesus that John articulated in introducing the Messiah to the world. I thought, “Wow, this is pretty neat!” One day I might convert that into a little five-point sermon (for I often find that my messages are best when they’re the overflow of my own devotions).

The last half of my notebook is for my prayer lists. I have a daily list, for there are some things I want to pray about every day. Then I have a list for every day of the week. For example, if I want to pray for a particular missionary family on a weekly basis, I just take their prayer card, punch holes in it, and insert it under the Monday tab, or the Tuesday, or whatever.

(Ed: The godly pastor Charles Simeon said that “It is scarcely ever that we can intercede with fervor unless we enjoy habitual nearness to God.”)

So I find a little notebook to be an incredible aid. However, a notebook isn’t necessary, and I’d like to give you a simpler alternative. Try using the margin of your Bible. Suppose, for example, you are reading through the Gospel of John. Beside John 1:1, put today’s day—11/7/04, for example. Then start there and read through the passage, marking anything that is of interest until you find just the verse that speaks to your soul for that day. Let’s say that it is Jn 1:16: “From the fullness of His grace we have all received one blessing after another” (NIV). Circle that verse and end your reading there. The next day, put the new date—11/08/04—beside John 1:17 and read on until you find that day’s verse, then circle it. And so forth.

For a prayer list, you can use the flyleaf of your Bible or a slip of paper in the back cover. Or you can just use a mental list. I’m not sure that our Lord took a paper list with Him when He rose early on that morning in Capernaum and retreated to the nearby mountains. Perhaps it would work better for you just to say, “Lord, guide me today to those things You want me to pray about.”

Again, simplicity is the rule. The Word of God and prayer. Going into the closet and meeting with the Father in secret. A notebook works for me, but don’t feel like you have to do it the way I do. Find the method that works best for you.

(4) Fourth, have a place and a regular time.

As I read through the Gospels, it seems to me that Jesus had two places that He used for His closet. When He was in the north of Israel, He would retreat into the mountains to be alone. We saw that in Mark 1, and we also see it later when He sent His disciples by boat to the other side of the lake while He Himself went up into the mountains to pray. But where would He go when He was in Jerusalem? It was much more difficult to be alone there. John 18:2 says that He would often go out of the city, across the Kidron Valley, and into an olive orchard which was apparently owned by a friend who gave Him access to it. I suppose the friend said, “Jesus, here’s the key to the gate. Feel free to relax there whenever you’d like. The place was called Gethsemane and Judas led the soldiers there to arrest Jesus, for He knew that Christ often went there late at night or perhaps early in the morning for His Quiet Time.

For you it might be the kitchen table, or the front seat of your car, or your bedside at night. And that brings up another question. Does it have to be in the morning? No. If the evening is better for you, or the midnight hour, or the noon hour during your lunch break, that’s fine. We each need to find the routine that works for us. My suggestion is just that you have a regular time or place in order to make it habitual and regular and a part of the normal routine of your day.

Some people say, “Can I have my Quiet Time at night?” Absolutely. In fact, in the Hebrew culture, the day began the night before. Here in our society, we think of the day beginning with sunrise; but the Jewish people thought of the day beginning at sunset. The Jewish Sabbath, for example, begins at sunset on Saturday night and extends into the next day. Genesis chapter 1 says, “The evening and the morning were the first day,” etc.

They understood the fact that whatever you are thinking about when you go to sleep is what will reside on your subconscious mind all through the night hours and will determine our mental mood and makeup for the next day. So if it works for you to have your devotions at night, that’s perfectly all right.

Now, whenever I speak on this subject, the question comes up—what about those times in life when our schedules are out of our control. Sometimes, despite our very best efforts, we go through periods of life in which we have a difficult time maintaining a habit such as I’ve described. This is especially true of mothers of preschoolers.

In my reading, I was intrigued with the testimony of Rosalind Goforth, who was a mother and a busy missionary in China. She was very eager to maintain her Quiet Time habit, but she was greatly frustrated by the fact that no matter how early she got up and how quiet she tried to be, one or more of her children woke up, and the daily circus just started that much earlier. So she finally just kept a small Bible or testament with her all the time, and she learned to take those odd moments all through the day to memorize Scripture. That way, she had it available for meditation all day long, and she just turned each day into one long 24-hour Quiet Time.

I’ve read several magazine articles by mothers who have done that very thing. One had five children between the ages of ten months and ten years, and finally she went out and bought a handful of small Bibles which she kept open at various places in the house. One was by the ironing board, one was by the bathroom vanity. One was by the kitchen sink. And all day she would catch a snitch of Scripture here and there. And when she bathed the baby, she would pray for that child. When she folded clothes, she prayed for the one to whom they belonged. She kept the radio on a Christian station so that day was filled with Christian music and Bible teaching. She just turned each day into an extended Quiet Time.

My wife, Katrina, however, has a different idea about it. She was a stay-at-home mother with three small children; but she sat them down one day and had a talk with them and said something to this effect: “Now, girls, I want to be a good mother, and to be a good mother who is kind and patient, I need to spend time with the Lord each day. So every afternoon I’m going to have my quiet time, and that’s going to be your alone time in your rooms. You can sleep or nap or read or play quietly by yourselves, but you are not to come and interrupt me—and if you do I’ll break your necks.” I’m really not sure she said that last part, but whatever she said worked, and she was able to maintain her quiet time even during that phase of her life.

So there’s more than one way to skin a cat, and there’s more than one way to have your Quiet Time; but all things being equal, I still think a few minutes early in the morning with a Bible, notebook, and a cup of strong, hot coffee is the best way to start the day.

(5) Finally, exercise perseverance. Paderewski, one of the world’s greatest pianists, said:

When I miss a day of practice, I can always tell it. If I miss two days, the critics will pick it up. If I miss three days, the audience will notice it.

I feel the same way about my Quiet Time. Harriet Beecher Stowe, the famous 19th century novelist and author of Uncle Tom’s Cabin, was a dedicated Christian and a hymnist. She regularly rose early in the morning for her time with the Lord. One of her most famous poems speaks to this when she writes:

Still, still with Thee, when purple morning breaketh,
When the bird waketh, and the shadows flee;
Fairer than morning, lovelier than daylight,
Dawns the sweet consciousness, I am with Thee.

Courtesy of http://www.preceptaustin.org/quiet_time_seven_minutes_with_god

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The Ears-The Second Gateway to the Heart: The Power of the Spoken Word

One of the most amazing sections of Scripture is one that illustrates the enormous power in the spoken word of God. It’s found in Ezekiel 37. The Spirit of God sent the prophet Ezekiel to a great valley that was full of dry bones scattered over the ground. What a picture of death, destruction, and hopelessness! But God Almighty, through His prophet, spoke to these worthless bones, and the Voice of the Lord changed everything:

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’”

So I prophesied as I was commanded. And as I was prophesying, there was a noise, a rattling sound, and the bones came together, bone to bone. I looked, and tendons and flesh appeared on them and skin covered them, but there was no breath in them.

Then he said to me, “Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to it, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Come, breath, from the four winds and breathe into these slain, that they may live.’” So I prophesied as he commanded me, and breath entered them; they came to live and stood up on their feet—a vast army. (Ezekiel 37:4–10, NIV)

The words of the Lord are so powerful and life-changing that these dry bones were made alive. The scattered bones came together, and muscle, tissue, tendons, and flesh molded around them in the beautiful tapestry of a human body. God breathed out His words, and these dead bones thundered to life. Before they heard the word of the Lord, the bones were forgotten, useless, returning to dust. But once they heard the words of the living God, they were transformed into a mighty army.

The voice of the Lord brings life to all the dead parts within, reviving any part of the heart that has been burdened down and forgotten. The words of the Lord will mend and restore, bringing us out of the most desolate circumstances of life and helping us to stand strong on the battlefield of life, ready to take on foe. Never underestimate the effect that words can have on the body, soul, and spirit. The power of words on the heart is absolutely profound and life-changing.

About sixty percent of the adult human body is made up of water. The human brain is about seventy-three percent water. Studies have shown that vibrations caused by the spoken word can change the molecular structure of water. Dr. Masaru Emoto, a Japanese scientist, has conducted years of research and photographed thousands of water crystals and the effects of both positive and negative words on their molecular structure. His findings: Beautiful crystal patterns were formed with words of love and gratitude, while chaotic patterns were formed by words of hate and anger. In his book The Miracle of Water, Emoto writes:

Words are vibrations, and when our bodies, with all the water coursing through them, are exposed to good words, we cannot help but experience health and well-being. And in the same way, bad words and their bad vibrations will predictably have a negative effect on our bodies, so we should not be surprised when destructive words destroy. So much can ride on a single word….More so than in the past, we are surrounded by negative words…much of the language we use, and even many of the new words and expressions that enter our language through modern culture, are negative in their vibration.[i]

Sound crazy? What’s certain is that all words have an effect on the heart. Words can lead the heart to intimate fellowship with God, or they can cause bitterness, anger, envy, and resentment to take root in the heart and lead to heartsickness, physical disease, and even death.

Proverbs 18:21 (ESV) states plainly that “life and death are in the power of the tongue.” The spoken word has the power to bring life or death to our hearts. Can you see why both God and the Devil are concerned with the words that are aimed at our hearts? The devil doesn’t want the human heart to hear any words inspired by the Spirit of God, and he speaks loudly to try to drown out God’s voice from reaching the heart. The devil wants his words to enter the heart like poison so he can control, dominate, and ultimately crush it.

The Voice of the Deceiver

In the book of Genesis, we see the opening act of this epic drama. The scene in the garden establishes a pattern in this war of words to turn the heart toward either light or darkness, good or evil:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden?’” (Genesis 3:1, NIV)

The first words the devil ever uttered to the human heart were “Did God really say?” He whispered to Eve with sly words implying, Does God speak the truth? Can you really trust Him? Does He have your best interests in mind? A good and just God who really cared for you would allow you to eat from every tree. Perhaps He is trying to withhold something good from you. If so, how can He be trusted? What is He hiding? Eve faced the same decision all of us are confronted with daily: whose words are we going to believe and allow entrance into our hearts?

The essence of every attack of the enemy is rooted in the phrase “Did God really say?” This is the devil’s master battle plan and war strategy. He must prevent or destroy any remnant of the Word of God in the human heart for it is a threat to his kingdom. The devil always challenges the integrity, reliability, and value of every word uttered from the mouth of God, and he will say and do anything to discredit and distort God’s words so that people reject them. Satan is at war with the Word of God, for when the Word is allowed to live in the human heart, then the devil is utterly powerless to exercise control and dominion there. Do you now understand why in the parable of the sower and seed that the devil moves immediately to snatch away the Word that was sown in the heart?

This is the meaning of the parable: the seed is the word of God. Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so they may not believe and be saved. (Luke 8:11–12, NIV)

The devil wastes no time in stalking the Word of God when it is sown in the heart, for everlasting freedom and complete deliverance from his power are at stake. Will the heart of the hearer be awakened to spiritual life and emblazoned with the glory of God? Or will it remain dead to God, too hardened and indifferent to recognize the light and power of His Word? If the condition of the heart allows him to do so, the devil plucks the seed of the Word of God from the heart before it can begin to change the heart into the glorious image of God’s Son.  The devil snatches away the precious seed of the Word of God so that it is not believed and cannot lead to salvation.

The Greek word for “believe” in Luke 8 means “to trust, to be persuaded, and to have an unwavering confidence in.” When the Word of God is believed, the heart begins to have an unwavering confidence that God is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do. The heart becomes persuaded that God is worthy of trust above all else and begins to trust and lean on God. The Word of God not only illuminates the true character of God, but it also exposes the true character of the devil as a liar, a cheat, and a fraud who cannot be trusted or believed.

The Greek word rendered “saved” in Luke 8 means “to be made whole, to rescue from danger, destruction, or great peril, and to restore to health.” The words of God make the heart whole and healthy. They rescue the heart from the great perils and destruction of the devil’s work, restoring the heart and infusing it with strength, power, and love. The words of God break the bondage and chains of sin and synchronize our heartbeat to the heartbeat of God. They draw us into our Creator, unfolding and revealing the awesome nature and characteristics of God and His amazing heart of love. The words of God melt away all fear, anxiety and worry. They mend what is broken, heal what is sick, free what is burdened, and make alive what is dead. The words of God bring the unlimited power of God into our hearts, establish a fortress around the heart to protect it against the subtle and relentless attacks of the roaring lion.

When God breathes His words into your heart, amazing things happen. A word whispered in intimacy from the Father can change your destiny. Your heart was created to be a fireplace for God, and His words are the fuel that keeps this fire going, that enables the heart to continue burn passionately for our Lord. Yet the flame of God will be extinguished in our hearts if the words of God are not heard and believed.

Satan has set out to orchestrate the times and culture to confuse, distort, and numb hearts so that the life-changing words of God will bounce off unreceptive hearers made hard by the relentless dust storms of the world. This master thief knows he cannot steal and destroy the human heart unless he controls what is allowed to grow and take root there.

The devil understands that the heart is fed and greatly influenced by words. Words are critical to the formation, development, and character of the heart. Either the words of God or the words of Satan will make their home in our hearts. So the devil snatches the seed of the Word sown in a hardened heart and then replaces it with his masterful substitution. His words for God’s words, his thoughts for God’s thoughts, his ways for God’s ways, his lies for God’s truth. This is a subtle, crafty, and shrewd substitution from the ultimate con artist and master counterfeiter. This strategy has been so effective that the Bible calls Satan the one “who leads the whole world astray” (Revelation 12:9). He is “the deceiver of the whole world” (ESV). The Greek word for “deceive” means “to cause to wander, to lead astray, to lead into error, and to seduce from the truth,” and the tense used here indicates that it is a continual action that does not stop, that it is the devil’s habitual character.

He has led millions and millions of hearts astray, seducing them into error and causing them to wander aimlessly through life, bouncing from idol to idol in a never-ending search for meaning and fulfillment. The devil’s ability to deceive is illustrated by the root of the Hebrew word translated “serpent” in Genesis 3:1. This word means “to hiss, to mutter, to whisper, to enchant, to fascinate.” Throughout the ages, the Devil is a master of fascination as he exercises a powerful and irresistible influence over the passions and affections of the heart.

Fascination is a powerful and persuasive form of communication. In the book Fascinate: Your Seven Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation, Sally Hogshead writes:

We all have certain behaviors that don’t exactly make sense, even to ourselves. We make certain choices, and take certain actions, without exactly understanding exactly why. Here’s why: In a state of fascination, we don’t think and act quite logically. We do things we don’t understand, we believe messages we don’t agree with, and we buy things we don’t even want….Herein lies the power of fascination: It strips away our usual rational barriers, exposing our minds, leaving us vulnerable to influence, naked to persuasion.[ii]

Is it logical for a person to turn away from an awesome, loving, merciful, faithful, and compassionate God for the alluring promise of someone or something that in reality is an empty shell of expectation? Absolutely not!

If people only understood and knew God’s wonderful nature, they would come running into His warm embrace and hide themselves under the protection of His comforting presence. If people saw even a glimpse of His majesty and grandeur, their hearts would grasp hold of Him and never let go for anything or anyone. This is why the devil must deceive in order to lead the heart away from God, and a powerful tool he uses to do this is fascination.

In a state of fascination, a person believes the lie and makes the irrational and unwise choice of allowing something or someone other than God to consume their hearts. The devil has an endless string of fascination triggers at his disposal—beauty, power, fame, money, popularity, drugs, flattery, knowledge, influence, and even religion. So many follow these fascination triggers like sheep being led to the slaughter. Fascination leads us into obsession and, ultimately, idolatry, as the heart eagerly chases after the fleeting shadow of its consuming passion.

Don’t be caught off guard by thinking you’re immune to fascination or that you cannot be deceived. Remember, the devil disguises himself as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). His words can seem so sincere, so enlightening, so liberating, and so stimulating that the heart absorbs them like a sponge without having any clue to the deadly venom they are taking in. Satan’s voice can sound so soothing, so wise, and so caring as he whispers his subtle lies.

We must remain constantly on guard against the devil’s schemes, as his words will quickly wither and dry up our hearts and make us cold, distant, and hardened toward our Creator.

Prevention of Deception

Deception is the kingpin of idolatry, for no heart will ever worship, serve and follow a lifeless god unless it has been deceived. The secret to resisting and overcoming every wile, every trick and every fascination of the devil is found in Deuteronomy. Here God sets forth the incredible rewards and benefits of hearing the word of the Lord and obeying it:

Take heed to yourselves, lest your heart be deceived, and turn aside and serve other gods and worship them. Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth. (Deuteronomy 11:16,18–21, NKJV)

Why do you suppose God exhorts us in the New Testament to not be ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11) and to “put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil” (Ephesians 6:11, NKJV)? Why did Jesus Christ warn his disciples to “take heed that no one deceives you” (Matthew 24:4, nkjv)? Why did God declare in Ephesians 5:6 to “let no one deceive you with empty words”? Because deception has devastating, corrupting effects on the heart that will cause it to reject God’s love and His purposes and depart from His presence.

The only way to guard against and defeat the devil’s cunning is by hearing and clinging to the words of the Lord and engraving them on our hearts through thoughtful study, meditation, and confession. We must choose to live by His words, obey them, cherish them, honor them, and make them the standard for our lives. Nothing should thrill us, excite us, or give us more joy than the words of God. The Bible is God’s heart, God’s will, and God’s plan. How can you guard against deception if you are not reading and studying it on a daily basis? How can you guard against fascination if you spend little or no time in the Word? You are putting your heart at extreme risk of infiltration and takeover by the enemy if your Bible is accumulating dust on the shelf.

Look at the great effort God commanded the children of Israel to make to ensure the words of the Lord were freely available to flow into their hearts. They were to lay up His commandments in their hearts by always having His words in front of them, teaching them to their children, and speaking them whether they were sitting, rising, lying down, or walking about. He even instructed His people to write them on the doorposts of their homes and on their gates so that, whether they were coming or going, the words of the Lord were there to see and hear.

The words of God are to be our constant companion, ringing in our ears no matter where the journey of life takes us. So often we often flip on the television or turn on the radio or wake up the computer when we want to relax or escape, but God commands us to tune in to His Word as we awake to the gentle dawning of the morning light, as we work at our jobs or dine with our families, as we sit down in the evening, and as we lay in our beds before we drift off to sleep. We must carry the words of the Lord as our standard, our banner, in order to keep our hearts free of idolatry.

[i] Masaru Emoto, The Miracle of Water (New York: Atria Books, Beyond Words Publishing 2007), 11,12.

[ii] Sally Hogshead, Fascinate: Your Seven Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation (New York: Harper Collins, 2010), 6.

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Idolatry: The Principle Crime of the Human Race, Part 6: The Turning of the Heart

The Turning of the Heart

One vitally important truth the Bible continually illustrates is how quickly the heart can turn after idols. It often is very subtle where we don’t even realize our heart is turning away from God to an idol. Little by little the heart begins to turn and soon our backs are to God and our face to an idol. God’s admonition is to “Be careful!” “Watch out!” “Be vigilant!” “Be on guard!” “Beware!” that your heart not be turned.

“But be careful. Don’t let your heart be deceived so that you turn away from the Lord (Yahweh) and serve and worship other gods. (Deuteronomy 11:16, NLT)

Do not turn from Me to follow useless idols or cast metal images of other gods, for I am the Eternal (Yahweh) your God. (Leviticus 19:4, VOICE)

Therefore, say to the house of Israel: ‘God, the Master, says, Repent! Turn your backs on your no-god idols. Turn your backs on all your outrageous obscenities. To every last person from the house of Israel, including any of the resident aliens who live in Israel—all who turn their backs on me and embrace idols, who install the wickedness that will ruin them at the center of their lives. (Ezekiel 14:6-7a, MSG)

Make sure there is no man or woman, clan or tribe among you today whose heart turns away from the Lord (Yahweh) our God to go and worship the gods of those nations; make sure there is no root among you that produces such bitter poison. (Deuteronomy 29:18, NIV)

God is crying out to not turn away from Him to follow and serve other gods. If we want to protect our hearts for God so they reflect His image and glory, we must understand the lesson of the turning of the heart. The heart is not static, stationary or motionless. The heart is always turning to the object of its fascination, craving and love. The heart turns toward what it desires. The poisonous root of idolatry always begins with the turning of the heart. You have two paths that you can travel on in life: the path of Yahweh or the path of idolatry, and the way of the heart is determined by the direction it is turned. You ultimately decide where the gaze of your heart is fixed. You decide the direction your heart is traveling.

The Turning of Solomon’s Heart

Now if think you are immune from the poison of a turned heart, then maybe you should examine the record of King Solomon.  Nothing compared to the wisdom and understanding of Solomon as it was greater than anyone before or after him. I Kings 4:30 tells us that Solomon’s wisdom exceeded all the children of the east country and all the wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than all and spoke three thousand proverbs and composed one thousand and five songs (I Kings 4:31, 32). He had great knowledge about the earth and the animal kingdom, and people from all around the world came to hear his wisdom. Inspired by God, he wrote the books of Proverbs, Song of Solomon and Ecclesiastes.

Yahweh appeared to Solomon twice and personally conversed with him, giving him words of wisdom and promise. Yahweh also gave him a specific warning of the dire consequences if he turned away from following the Lord and his commandments to go and serve other gods.  Solomon built the house of the Lord with intricate detail according to the word of God and at its dedication encouraged the people to be wholly devoted to the Lord (Yahweh). Solomon wanted all the people of the earth to know that Yahweh is God, and there is none else. He was the wisest and richest of all the kings of the earth as God blessed Him with amazing wisdom and understanding that astounded the world.

Surely this wise and discerning heart of Solomon would never turn from Yahweh to idols. Surely he would not forsake God. Solomon was too wise, too understanding, and too smart. He knew more than anyone the utter foolishness of chasing after worthless idols. He was acutely aware of the danger of turning the heart to idolatry, and the consequences of such action to his kingdom. He could never be deceived into turning his heart away from God to a dumb idol of wood, stone or gold. Or could he?

In Solomon, God is instructing us about this vital lesson that no one, no matter how wise or spiritual, is immune from the turning of the heart away from God to idolatry. We must be watchful and vigilant for the turning of the heart can happen to anyone.

Now King Solomon loved many foreign women, along with the daughter of Pharaoh: Moabite, Ammonite, Edomite, Sidonian, and Hittite women. From the nations concerning which the Lord had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” Solomon clung to these in love. He had 700 wives, who were princesses, and 300concubines. And his wives turned away his heart. For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done. Then Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab, and for Molech the abomination of the Ammonites, on the mountain east of Jerusalem. And so he did for all his foreign wives, who made offerings and sacrificed to their gods. (I Kings 11:1-8, ESV)

King Solomon how could you do this? How could you let your heart be so turned? Solomon loved his wives more than he loved God, and he allowed his wives to turn his heart away from Yahweh to serve and worship some of the most despicable pagan gods.

We see the warning signs in I Kings 3 when Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh, King of Egypt, and took his daughter in marriage, and brought her into the city of David. The Hebrew word for “took” is a much more hostile and aggressive verb than we would see between a husband and wife. It means to capture, acquire, and seize like an animal. In Ezekiel the word describes a flash of lightening. Solomon is mesmerized. His heart has been swept away. He must have the daughter of Pharaoh at all costs so like a flash of lightening he aggressively seizes her like a hungry animal taking food. He forcefully took something that God had not given him and brought her into his home. His heart was turning in a flash and the stage is now set for the bitter poison of idolatry to begin to circulate throughout his heart. The turning of his heart to idolatry had begun. The enemy was at the gate.

The turning of the heart of Solomon was so complete that he committed the shocking acts of building high places of worship for the idols of his wives, and offering sacrifices to these false gods. He built this place of sacrifice on the hill east of Jerusalem, which was the Mount of Olives where all of Jerusalem could see this idolatrous abomination against Yahweh. These high places of worship Solomon built remained for almost three hundred years until tore down by King Josiah. The Bible calls it “the mount of corruption” for all the idol worship that occurred there right in the face of Jerusalem (II Kings 23:13).

Now we can see even deeper the heart of Jesus when from the Mount of Olives he burst into tears and wailed with great emotion over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). Oh how this city had run into the arms of idols instead of their loving Heavenly Father. These pagan altars built by Solomon looming over Jerusalem on the Mount of Olives caused many of God’s people to go a whoring after other gods. They were a blemish to God’s holy city Jerusalem and His sacred temple.

Can you even imagine the horror that Chemosh and Molech required child sacrifice in their worship! Solomon put his stamp of approval on the killing of innocent, precious children of God for the worship of dead, dumb and worthless idols. Solomon’s heart was so turned he did not care that he was committing murder in the name of idolatry. His wives and their beloved idols became his consuming passion, and no evil act was prohibited because of his misguided love. He profaned the name of Yahweh by offering children to Molech in the ritual of their detestable sacrifice (Leviticus 18:21).

Solomon’s actions not only destroyed his heart for God, but it took an enormous toll on the hearts of his countrymen and nation. He spoiled his witness for God around the world by not carefully guarding his heart. Solomon’s actions had devastating effects on Israel and Judah politically, economically and spiritually because he allowed his heart to be turned from God to blatant exhibitions of the worst practices of idolatry. God’s man, king and chosen had become a traitor to Yahweh, and a defector from the faith of his fathers Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David.

Solomon wrote by revelation from God beautifully inspiring proverbs about the wisdom of God, which God gave Him in overflowing abundance. Yet he chose to forsake the wisdom of God for the wisdom of the world. He failed miserably to follow his own written proverb to guard the heart with all diligence for out of it are issues of life (Proverbs 4:23). He ignored the warning of Scripture concerning taking foreign wives and setting them up as idols in his heart. Solomon’s heart was no longer perfectly God’s, as it no longer completely belonged to God. It became the possession of another lover.

Many great men of God throughout history have allowed their hearts to be completely turned away from God by lusting after women whose hearts were not right with the Lord. Entire ministries, callings and kingdoms have been brought to utter ruin by the lusts and sexual cravings of these men who failed to exercise any godliness and self-control over their fleshly appetites. Men have worshipped women as idols and pursued them with reckless abandon to the destruction of their lives. This is a favorite idol of the kingdom of darkness to lure God’s men into the poison of idolatry. Lust is behind every form of idolatry and causes one to relinquish the ownership of their heart to something other than God.

We also see a clue of the turning of Solomon’s heart in the Hebrew words for “not follow the Lord (Yahweh) fully.” The Hebrew word for “fully” means to fill a vacant space with abundance until it is overflowing, to be satisfied and to be completed. Solomon was no longer satisfied with Yahweh. Yahweh no longer completed Solomon’s heart. The vacant space of Solomon’s heart was no longer filled with Yahweh in abundance to where it overflowed into his thoughts, words and actions. Solomon’s heart was filled with another satisfaction, passion and lover.

A Fool Turns to Everything but God

As wise as Solomon was, he never learned the lesson of the turning of the heart. It is interesting the word “fool” is used 73 times in the Bible, but well over half (41) of these usages of “fool” are in Proverbs, and 12 of the usages are in Ecclesiastes, both penned by Solomon. Solomon ended up playing the fool like King Saul because he allowed his heart to be turned from God, and he did not turn back to Him. King Saul said in I Samuel 26:21 “I have played the fool…I have erred exceedingly” and Solomon declared in Ecclesiastes 2:15, “As it happened to the fool, so it happened to me.” Saul and Solomon never learned the prime lesson of a fool. A fool turns to everything, but God.

The Essence of Faith: Turning Away From Idols and Turning to God

For not only did the message about the Lord go out from you throughout Macedonia and Achaia, but the news about your faith in God has gone everywhere. There is nothing, then, that we need to say. All those people speak about how you received us when we visited you, and how you turned away from idols to God, to serve the true and living God. (I Thessalonians 1:8-9, GNT)

The essence of faith is turning away from idols and turning to God. If idols dominate our hearts, then we will not have faith in our God. The altar of our hearts will be cluttered with other sacrifices, passions and devotions, and we will have no confidence in God. If you truly want to serve God from a pure and loving heart, you must turn from every idol, and throw them out of the throne room of your heart. Idolatry always shipwrecks faith and ruins service for God for the heart is fixed on another god. When the heart is turned to the vanity of a worthless idol, death to the ways of God enters the heart (II Kings 17:15). The faith of the Thessalonians sounded out around the world because it is such a rare gem to see a heart that has turned away from all idols to serve the true and living God.

Idolatry is still an enormous disease of the heart. It is not simply an ancient concept confined to the Old Testament. One of the great admonitions of the New Testament is contained in the books of I John and I Corinthians.

Little children, keep yourselves from idols. (I John 5:21, ESV)

But be on your guard, my dear children, against every false god! (PHILLIPS)

Little children, keep yourselves from idols (false gods)—[from anything and everything that would occupy the place in your heart due to God, from any sort of substitute for Him that would take first place in your life]. Amen (so let it be). (AMP)

Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. (I Corinthians 10:14, ESV)

God urgently commands us to keep ourselves from idols. The Greek word for “keep” means to guard, to keep from being snatched away, to preserve safely, and to watch in order to protect. This word was a military term describing a soldier who was on watch and was accountable with his own life to protect those entrusted in his care. It conveys the fundamental idea of protecting in the time of an attack. It was also used of keeping valuables in a safe place. This Greek verb is in the aorist imperative which makes the command more forceful, and calls for a decisive choice to do this now, once and for all, in one quick action with a sense of immediate urgency. You must keep your heart for God only, and diligently guard it from being snatched away by an idol. The danger of idolatry always lurks at the gateway of your heart. Your spiritual enemy is always attempting to devour your heart through idols. You cannot be lulled into a spiritual slumber and fall asleep in protecting your heart for the perils of idolatry are too great to ignore. Even as Christians, our hearts are extremely vulnerable to idols, and have a strong pull from our flesh to lust after them.

Zero Tolerance Policy Concerning Idols

We must protect the valuable treasure of our hearts from all enemies for it belongs to Yahweh. We must be like the disciplined and trained soldier that is alert every moment to the movement of the enemy and his tactics and schemes. We must check the identity, purpose and motive of every thought, image, and voice that wants to gain admission into our hearts. We must build a protective wall around our heart where no idol can penetrate. We need to examine every turn of our heart to assure that no idol is drawing us away from God. We cannot compromise and have a double life where we worship Yahweh at times and worship idols at other times. It is impossible to truly love Yahweh and still cling to our idols. It is impossible to serve and obey both God and idols. You must choose, and it is the most important decision concerning your heart that you will ever make. Every heart has an object of worship. Every heart has a driving passion. Every heart has a god that it serves. There are no exceptions. If your heart is not serving and worshiping God, then you have set up an idol in your heart that is stealing your devotion to God. God or an idol? You choose. You determine whom you serve.

God commands that our hearts have a zero tolerance policy concerning idols. We cannot play around with idols and win. God commands us to “flee from idolatry” and the Greek word for “flee” means seek safety by flight. Run! Get out of there! Move your heart away from idols swiftly like an Olympic runner. We don’t stick around. We don’t rationalize; we don’t socialize; we don’t reconsider. We put the pedal to the metal, and get out of the playground of idolatry as fast as we can. The seduction of idolatry is too strong. The deception of idolatry is too great. Run as fast as you can away from it. If we visit and spend the night at the house of idols, we will get burned. Idolatry is too toxic to play around with. Idolatry is too poisonous to drink from its waters. Ask King Solomon, the wisest man of all time, if you can play around with idolatry and win. Do not be a fool and think a little idolatry is harmless. It is the number one destroyer of the heart. It is the most fatal disease the heart has ever known. It is a deadly spiritual plague that kills the heart for God. It is a thief that robs us of intimacy, fellowship and growth with God, and turns us away from God’s breathtaking plans for our lives. Run my beloved as fast as you can from idols and never look back.

Who Owns Your Heart?

You must examine yourself daily and ask this question: who do you really have a heart for? Do you have a heart for God or an idol? Who owns your heart? Who controls your heart? Who have you given your hearts to? Who drives your heart? Whatever controls your heart, controls your life. Whatever controls your heart is what you prize and love the most. Who is the true treasure of your heart? Can you hear the Lord lovingly pleading with you? Can you hear his cry to your heart?

That is why the Lord says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts. Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.” Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish. (Joel 2:12-13, NLT)

God is constantly imploring us to give Him our hearts. We need to come into His presence with humility, fasting, and weeping for the times we have betrayed him by setting up idols in our hearts. Return your heart to the Lord and seek refuge in His loving arms. He will forgive you and heal your heart. Time is of the essence, and each second is closer to eternity. Do not delay. Now is the time to give God all of your heart and not play games with Him any longer.

Excerpt from The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life by Tim Rowe available at http://www.lulu.com/shop/tim-rowe/the-heart-the-key-to-everything-in-the-christian-life/paperback/product-22601300.html. Also available on Kindred and Amazon.

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The Ears-The Second Gateway to the Heart: Who are You Listening To?

hearing

The human ear is an extraordinary organ wonderfully designed by our Creator. Together, the ears are stereo receivers responsible for collecting sounds, processing them, and sending signals to the brain in a form that it understands. The ear also plays a critical part in the balance and positioning of the body, as it is the organ of equilibrium.

The ear consists of three different parts: the outer ear, the middle ear, and the inner ear. The middle ear includes the eardrum, a thin piece of skin stretched tight like a drum. The eardrum separates the outer ear from the middle ear and three of the tiniest bones in the body, referred to as the ossicles. These bones—the hammer, anvil, and stirrup—respond to vibrations in the air and vibrate themselves in response to sound, translating these vibrations to the inner ear.

The chambers of the inner ear are filled with fluid that is jostled into motion by the vibrations coming from the ossicles. Within the inner ear is a bony structure coiled like a snail shell, about the size of a pea, called the cochlea. Within the internal spiral of the cochlea are thousands of specialized nerve endings in the form of tiny hairs that are the true sound receptors. There are some 20,000 of these tiny hairs, and they are super-sensitive to the slightest movement of the fluid in the inner ear, interpreting many different variations of sound. These nerve endings merge at the core of the cochlea and exit the inner ear in a nerve bundle known as the auditory nerve, which leads directly to the brain.

What an amazing instrument that God fashioned so His beloved could hear the sounds of His creation and receive the healing and power in His words!

So is what we hear vital to the health of our hearts? Absolutely! The Bible clearly states the significance and impact on the heart of what we are hearing with our ears. Jesus cried out several times in his teaching, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear!” (Matthew 11:15, nkjv). The Son of God knew the importance of tuning our ears to the voice of the Father that we might increase our knowledge, wisdom, love, and understanding of His Word.

God does not want us to be so careless with our eyes and ears that we become like the children of Israel whom Isaiah rebuked for not seeing and hearing the things of God:

Pay attention! Are you deaf? Open your eyes! Are you blind? You’re my servant and you’re not looking! You’re my messenger and you’re not listening! The very people I depended upon, servants of God, blind as a bat—willfully blind! You’ve seen a lot, but looked at nothing. You’ve heard everything, but listened to nothing. (Isaiah 42:18-20, msg)

God expects us to use our eyes and our ears to glorify Him and strengthen our spiritual health. Jesus exhorted His followers to “consider carefully what you hear” (Mark 4:24). If we are to truly be His disciples, we must carefully guard our ears, being discerning in what we are hearing and the voices we are listening to. Our hearts will never be radically devoted to Him if we are careless with our ears.

Faith Comes by Hearing

Hearing is fundamental to two of the most essential keys to Christian living: faith and obedience. Without hearing there is no faith, and we lose a crucial part of the armor of God, the shield of faith, which protects the heart from the fiery darts of the wicked one. If we do not hear God, we cannot please Him in our character and actions. Indeed, hearing is the prerequisite to faith:

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? (Romans 10:14, nkjv)

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. (Romans 10:17, nkjv)

The first step in faith is hearing what God has to say. Therefore we must tune our hearts to hear His voice and His words. And it’s important we get good reception, for our hearing determines the quality, depth, and amount of our faith. Faith does not come from our thoughts or intellect, but faith comes from the heart, for “with the heart, one believes” (Romans 10:10). Without faith, the heart becomes dead to God and His marvelous ways.

Faith always dwells and blossoms in the heart, but it is born and originates in the ear. Faith grasps and holds onto the wonderful promises of God, but His words must first be heard and enter the heart through the gateway of the ear. As we hear the words of God and listen and reflect on their wondrous message, a fire of faith begins to kindle and burn in our hearts.

Faith is fueled by the deepest longing of the heart, which is to hear a word from God that is personal, intimate, and cherished, bringing us into deeper relationship with Him. His precious words build trust, faith, and confidence in the faithfulness and everlasting love of our heavenly Father. The prophet Isaiah said, “For the Lord spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me” (Isaiah 8:11, esv). When God speaks and we listen to His voice, it is as though He firmly grasps our hand or shoulder and says, “Trust in me. Lean on me. Believe in me. Rest in me. I am who I said I am, and I will do what I said I will do. My words will never fail you.” This is faith, and it always begins with hearing the voice of the Lord. The words of Scripture should both gently whisper to us and boldly sound the true heartbeat of the Almighty in our ears daily, rejuvenating and building our faith as a mighty stronghold in the heart.

In Romans 10:17, the Greek word for “word” is rhema, and it means a spoken word uttered by a living voice with a definite meaning. God is alive, and when He speaks, His words bring life, power, intimacy, and healing. When His words are written on our hearts, faith begins to breathe and send forth a pleasing aroma to God. But it all begins with hearing. Men and women were designed to live, thrive, and flourish by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).

Also in Romans 10:17, the Greek word translated “comes by” is ek, and it means “out of” or “out from” and denotes the origin or source of something. Our faith begins to breathe and comes alive from hearing the voice of God. Without hearing His words, there is no faith. Faith never magically appears out of nothing. It’s always rooted in the words of the voice we are listening to.

Few of us ever pay attention to what our ears are tuned to. We are so used to the noise of the world—TV, the Internet, talk radio, pop music, billboards—that we allow it to muddle and drown out the voice of God. As Christians, we must never be careless or indifferent to what we are listening to, because it has an enormous impact on our hearts. We must never forget this critical truth: Hearing is also the source of much of the unbelief, fear, anxiety, doubt, and turmoil that grips the hearts of so many throughout the world. The clamor of the world is extremely loud, almost deafening, and can quickly contaminate the sea of the heart with all kinds of spiritual flotsam and jetsam that can shipwreck our faith. We must make our ears receptive to the words of God if we are to courageously and boldly stand for the truth.

Hear and Obey

A heart’s obedience to God is the one thing the devil fears most. An obedient heart is unstoppable in the advancement of God’s kingdom on earth. When we begin to obey God, the devil knows he’s in trouble because his schemes and strategies melt by the wayside in the fire of holy obedience.

The obedient heart is one that is in optimum health and strength, beating to the rhythm of God’s commandments and protected by a wall of immunity through its devotion to God’s words. Romans 6:17 tells us that obedience comes from the heart. But for the heart to choose obedience, we must tenaciously guard our ears and be wary as to what we listen to.

The words we choose to listen to and reflect upon inform our beliefs, our faith, and the morals we live by. We tend to live our lives according to the words we believe. At the core of all philosophies, religions, ideas, and systems of thought are words that have been heard and taught. People decide which voice they pledge their allegiance, passion, and devotion to. Thus hearing will determine whose altar you build in the throne room of your heart and which god you worship. And it’s this god or idol or beloved object of worship that you will be conditioned to obey through the words you listen to.

Don’t you think the devil understands this? He knows he steal a heart and turn it away from God by bombarding the ear with a subtle and sly use of words designed to cast doubt, indifference, and even contempt toward the character of God and the integrity of His Word. Satan accuses, assaults, and destroys hearts through the use of bitter and condemning words that pour into the heart through the ear. His voice has caused kingdoms to crumble, relationships to shatter, churches to fall, and idols to rise. The devil slyly and deceitfully uses words to enslave men and women by controlling what they hear. His name in the Greek, diabolos, even means “slanderer” and “false accuser.”

As Christians, we are not to be ignorant of the enemy’s devices. We must understand that hearing is an essential ingredient for obedience and keeping vigilant watch over our ears in order to stand against the deception and lies of the devil. Without a disciplined focus on God’s voice, the heart will forever wander aimlessly in a sea of noise without true direction or purpose. The heart will become sick with the diseases of this world and will become broken and polluted if we are reckless in what we listen to.

Once all the layers are peeled away, you are either obeying God or obeying the devil, based upon what you attentively listen to and hear. You must “choose this day,” as Joshua proclaimed, whom you are going to serve! Will it be the Lord God Almighty or the god of this age, the false angel of light, the great enchanter, the prince of fascination, the father of all lies? We all serve something. We all obey something. We all are devoutly following something we have heard. We all have a voice that is directing our lives and controlling our hearts. Whose voice are you listening to? To whom have you committed your loyalty and trust? Whose voice have you chosen to obey? Do you begin to see how important the gateway of the ear is to the condition of your heart?

An examination of the Hebrew and Greek words for “obedience” reveal that “hearing” is foundation stone of obedience.  The Hebrew word for “obey” in the Old Testament is shama and means “to hear intelligently, to listen and give heed.” The Greek word translated “obey” or “obedience” in the New Testament is hupakoe, which literally means to “hear under.” This conveys a picture of listening and submitting to, or obeying, what is heard. Obedience is the result of attentive hearing and conscious listening. Jesus Christ summed up this definition when he said “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it” (Luke 11:28).

In secular Greek, this word spoke of one who, having heard a knock on the door, stands by the door and listens intently to find out who it is and what they have to say. What an amazing picture of obedience! Both God and the devil are continuously standing at the door of our hearts, knocking and calling out our names. Whose voice will you open the door to?

Incline Your Ears

God’s great plea to men and women throughout history is this: “Listen to me! Hear me! I will give you life if you only will hear my voice and obey my words!” Listen to the plea of God calling for you to turn your ear toward Him:

Listen, O my people, to my instruction; Incline your ears to the words of my mouth. (Psalm 78:1, nasb)

Pay attention, come close now, listen carefully to my life-giving, life-nourishing words. (Isaiah 55:3, msg)

The Hebrew word rendered here as “incline” is natar, which we studied earlier. Remember, it means to stretch out or extend toward someone or something; to bend or to turn. This word implies an energy and intensity where you are stretching out with everything you have. It’s like a runner straining and stretching to cross the finish line ahead of his competitors. God wants us to have this same intensity and zeal when it comes to stretching our ear out to hear what He has to say. God wants us to run to Him, extending our ears toward Him to receive His instruction, guidance, and loving words. So often we don’t experience God’s love in our daily lives because we have stretched our ear to hear another voice, and so we do not hear what the Lord is saying. Still, God is wonderfully merciful and full of grace so that even when we’ve turned our backs on Him, He is still gently calling us back into His presence, to His heavenly embrace.

If you stray from the path, whether to the right or left, you will hear a voice from behind you sounding in your ears saying, “This is the way, follow it.” (Isaiah 30:21, REV)

Should your heart stray into enemy territory and you begin to wander off of God’s righteous path for your life, God is always speaking and imploring you to come back, even when you’ve turned your back on Him. God is still calling from behind, chasing after you with relentless determination, pleading for you to turn back. He is always knocking at the door of your heart, never giving up, tenderly whispering in your ear of His great love and affection for you, urging you to get back on the path where your God-given destiny lies.

God is always speaking. His voice is always near, no matter where we may wander:

For this commandment I give you today is not too mysterious for you, nor is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend into heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear and do it?’ But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may do it. (Deuteronomy 30:10–14, nkjv)

Even if we venture to the most remote place on earth, God’s voice can still be heard. And when we return to His way, He will break our captivity and set us free from all bondage, burdens, and oppression. His voice is always very near, closer than our breath, speaking to us day and night with gentle whispers, tender calls, firm warnings, loving encouragement, and wise admonishment. His voice commands our attention, our respect, and our obedience.

A.W. Tozer writes in The Pursuit of God:

God is speaking. Not God spoke, but God is speaking. He is by His nature continuously articulate. He fills the world with His speaking Voice. …God spoke a Book (Bible) and lives in His spoken words, constantly speaking His words and causing the power of them to persist across the years. Our eternal welfare depends upon our hearing, and we have trained our ears not to hear. . . . This is definitely not the hour when men take kindly to an exhortation to listen, for listening is not today a part of popular religion. …[But] God says, “Be still and know that I am God,” and still He says it, as if He means to tell us that our strength and safety lie not in noise but in silence. The facts are that God is not silent, has never been silent. It is the nature of God to speak. …The Bible is the inevitable outcome of God’s continuous speech. It is not only a book which was once spoken, but a book which is now speaking.[i]

The voice of the Lord is just as powerful today as it was any time in history. God did not suddenly go silent and quit speaking after the apostles were martyred. Our God is not a silent God. He is the most renowned public speaker in all the heavens and earth! God is called “the Word” in John 1:1. God, by His very nature, is the Great Communicator. He is the very essence of the Word, where He speaks about the glory of His love, mercy, goodness, and faithfulness. The Bible is the voice of God in written words and it speaks the message of the living God to every generation. The Bible is the God-breathed living, powerful Word of God and it is the primary way that God speaks to our hearts daily.

God also speaks to us directly by revelation and through the words of His messengers, prophets, ministers, and brothers and sisters in Christ. He is never limited as to how He speaks, where He speaks, and through whom He speaks. But we must realize and understand the enormous amount of speaking that God does through His written Word. Every word spoken in the Bible has been specially chosen by God and measured by His mighty hand. Every word pulsates with spiritual life and is a thousand times more pure than any substance on earth. His words are the pinnacle of love and the utmost expression of truth. The Word of God is the perfect representation of His voice.

The surest way to hear the voice of God is to sit down in a quiet place with your Bible and let it speak to your heart. Read and meditate upon the words He has spoken in the pages of Scripture. Hear what He is saying. Ask God to give you understanding and insight into His heart, His will, and His purposes, which fill His written Word. Ask Him to give you ears to hear what He is saying—and the courage and heart to obey it. Ask Him to speak to your circumstances, problems, challenges, growth, purpose, and destiny.

Now listen! You can hear His voice! God is speaking to you personally! His Word is like a love letter revealing His passion for you. When you begin to listen for His voice, as you immerse yourself in page after page of His holy Word, He will begin to work a true spiritual transformation of your heart and life. As you draw near to Him, He will draw near to you (James 4:8). Indeed He will draw you to Him so close that you can feel the warmth and beauty of His presence as you’re soothed by the tenderness in His voice. But you must make time in your busy life for such intimate communion. Once you do, your life will never be the same.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, in Life Together, writes:

The Word of Scripture should never stop sounding in your ears and working in you all day long, just like the words of someone you love. …Then ponder this word long in your heart until it has gone right into you and taken possession of you.[ii]

The wonderful words of Scripture are the words of a wise Father, instructing, encouraging, disciplining, and admonishing us that we may grow in wisdom and love. They are the words of the Lord of hosts, training, teaching, and preparing us for battle, showing us the tactics and strategies of our enemy and how to overcome him. They are a royal message from the King, declaring our royal position of honor and authority and reminding us of the power He has given us in the name of His Son.

Nothing on earth has more power to change us, heal us, revive us, and restore us than the words of our loving God. The Bible is not just a book of mere stories written by men. The Bible is the heart, the life, the wisdom, the knowledge, the very essence of God expressed in words. No aphorism ever uttered is more trustworthy than the words found in the Bible. In the written Word of God, there is not one lie, falsehood, or deception. Every word spoken in the living pages of Scripture comes directly from the heart of God and is worthy to be heard and believed. The words of God are completely faithful and can never be broken by the power of any circumstance, the reasoning of any intellect, or the changing winds of time. The words of God are the spiritual nourishment and sustenance the heart needs to be vibrant, pure, and free.

The words of Scripture must be sounding in your ears and living in you daily if you are to maintain a healthy heart, so incline your ears towards His Word and listen.

[i] A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (New York: Start Publishing LLC, 2012, originally published in 1948), 75, Kindle.

[ii] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together: The Classic Exploration of Faith in Community (Munich: Chr. Kaiser Verlag, Fifth Edition, 1949).

Tim Rowe

Excerpt from my book “The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life” Available on Amazon, and Kindle. https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Key-Everything-Christian-Life/dp/1483447928/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1488758382&sr=8-1&keywords=the+heart+the+key+to+everything

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Living in the New Covenant

4595051197_1585x702A covenant is an arrangement between people. All life operates or arises out of a covenant. When two people want to go into business together the first thing they do is draw up a contract or a partnership. That is the basic covenant that defines the terms of their operation. A marriage is that kind of a covenant. It is an agreement between a man and a woman to stick together against all odds, to work out their problems, to share their resources.

Life itself is the most fundamental covenant of all. Life is the agreement or the arrangement that God has already made with us that he will provide to us what it takes to operate, to act. None of us really supplies our own energy; God does. But God does this so continually that we get the illusion that we are supplying it, that it is something inherent in us. We are so used to making a decision and then promptly starting to do something that we never realize that if God didn’t give us power to act we could not do what we decided to do. We could not even move a muscle, raise an arm or wink an eye if it weren’t for power supplied from something outside of us. All men operate on this principle, but they are blind to this basic truth. It’s a funny thing that truth that is really basic is very hard to discover because we take it for granted. It is so much a part of us that we hardly even think about it.

In the Scriptures we have what the Apostle Paul calls an Old Covenant and a New Covenant. Now the passage I use oftentimes in teaching the whole truth of both of these Covenants, or arrangements for life, is found in Second Corinthians. In Chapter 3, Verse 4, Paul says some interesting words:

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God.
What kind of confidence? Obviously, that is referring back to something. Paul is referring to the boldness, the confident sense of adequacy he has in his life that makes him able to function as a human being, and even in his work as an apostle. He says this confidence, this adequacy, comes from a certain source. I am not going to take time to expound this at any length, but I want to show you what kind of confidence Paul is talking about. In Chapter 2, Verse 14, Paul says,

Thanks be to God who in Christ always leads us in triumph… (2 Corinthians 2:14a RSV)

Now that is confidence. You are always going to be led in triumph not in defeat, not in failure, not in weakness even, but in triumph.

…and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere we go. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. To one a fragrance from death to death and to another a fragrance from life to life. (2 Corinthians 14b-16a RSV)

Then Paul asks this question.

Who is sufficient for these things? (2 Corinthians 16b RSV)

Where do you get that kind of ability and adequacy? What kind of a study course will give you that? What kind of chemical compound will produce that? I am always fascinated by magazine ads. They are forever offering the secret of adequacy. If you get a certain deodorant you will be adequate to handle whatever comes you way. Or if you would use the right mouthwash, or the right toothpaste, it will help tremendously. Now everybody knows those ads are fake. Nobody even takes them seriously, although people do buy the product, which is what these ads seek. But if you really took seriously the claims of the newspaper advertising and billboard advertising you would think you had discovered the elixir of life in some of these things. They are offering adequacy because that is what human beings long for how to be able to cope, how to handle situations. And not only are chemical compounds offered, but also courses. One says, “Have you discovered all the hidden powers of your personality? Do you know the secrets of the ancients, now rediscovered? Send ten dollars for this course. Read this and you will get all these secret powers.” Again, it is the offer of the secret of adequacy. In a hundred ways today the world is offering this.

Paul continues, Verse 17:

For we are not like so many, peddlers of God’s word; but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ. Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, as some do, letters of recommendation to you, or from you? (2 Corinthians 2:17-3:2 RSV)

It is hard to believe, but these people in Corinth had been misled by some teachers who came down from Jerusalem and taught them that they ought to do like everybody else and boast about their accomplishments. These teachers even suggested that the Apostle Paul was not much of an apostle because he did not do this; and that he really was not one of the true apostles because he was not part of the twelve. They actually had the effrontery to suggest that these people write to Paul and suggest that the next time he came to Corinth he bring a letter of recommendation from the Apostle Peter, or James or John, or others of the real twelve, the real apostles.

Paul says, in effect, “Do you really mean that? Are you serious about that? Have you ever thought that you yourselves are our letter of recommendation?” Chapter 3, Verses 2-3,

You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on your hearts, to be known and read by all men; and you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:2-3 RSV)

How were they a letter of recommendation? Paul says, “Look what has happened to you. Look at the changes that have happened in your lives since we came and preached to you the word of truth. Has anything happened?” In his first letter to the Corinthians, there is a beautiful passage, which says, “Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” (1 Corinthians 6:9a RSV). It goes on to list such things as idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, thieves, drunkards, etc. Paul goes on to say, “Such were some of you, but you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified” (1 Corinthians 6:11a RSV). Some amazing things had happened to them. So Paul says, in effect, “Take a look at your life. Do you think that these changes could happen if what we were saying was not the truth of God? Your own life is our letter of recommendation .”

Now I have listed in the study I have made on Second Corinthians certain qualities of this kind of life. First, there is a kind of unquenchable optimism. “Thanks be unto God,” Paul says (2 Corinthians 2:14a RSV). That marks the kind of life Paul lived. He was always giving thanks for everything that happened, no matter how rough and tough it was.

Then there is a pattern of unvarying success: “Who always leads us in triumph,” Paul says (2 Corinthians 2:14b RSV). Never in failure. That is, not triumph in his (Paul’s) plan, but Christ’s plan.

Then there is an unforgettable impact, as brought out in the last part of Verse 14 through Verse 16. Everywhere Paul goes he is like a perfume which fills a room, a fragrance of Christ. To some who are rejecting him, this fragrance is an odor of death unto death, but to those who accept it is an odor of life unto life.

Then there is this unimpeachable integrity, in Verse 17. It is summed up in the words, “We are men of sincerity, commissioned of God, living in the sight of God, speaking in Christ to you.”

And then finally, this note of undeniable reality. In Chapter 3, Verses 1-3, Paul says, “Your own lives are proof that what we say and what we do is by the power of the Spirit of God.”

That is what Paul means when he says, “Who is sufficient for these things?” (2 Corinthians 2:16b). Where do you find the secret of that kind of living? His answer is the New Covenant. In Chapter 3, Verse 4-6, he says,

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God, not that we are sufficient of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God. It is he who has qualified us to be ministers of the New covenant, not as in a written code but in the Spirit, for the written code kills but the Spirit gives life. (2 Corinthians 3:4-6 RSV)

Everyone is born into this world operating on the Old Covenant, as contrasted with the New, which we can learn when we become a Christian. Now being a Christian does not mean that you automatically operate in the New Covenant. That is why you find Christians who are just as mixed up, just as torn up inside, just as unable to handle life as non-Christians are. Though they are Christians they have not learned the value of being a Christian. They have not learned how to operate on the New Covenant, which they have available to them in the Lord Jesus. They are still operating, for the most part, on the Old Covenant. That is what is fouling up their lives.

Now what do I mean when I say, “The Old Covenant”? Paul links this with the Law of Moses. He calls it, “the written code which kills, which was written on tablets of stone” 2 Corinthians 3:6), and so on. Why would Paul associate this with the Law of Moses? The reason is that Law was given to us in order to show us that the basis of our human life, inherited from Adam, is all wrong. It won’t work. The Law makes that clear to us and nothing else will do it. The Law makes a demand upon us and when we try to fulfill that demand, we find out we can’t, ultimately. Nobody has ever lived up to the Ten Commandments by trying his best to do so. If you doubt that, give yourself twenty-four hours in which you seek with all your strength and might to live up to the Ten Commandments. I will guarantee you will have broken one of them before fifteen minutes is over. If not any others, the last one: “Thou shalt not covet.” That means you must not look around this room and see anything that anybody has that you would like to have. That is the Law! It is given to show us that the way we are living now, the resources of our life in Adam, is not workable.

The New Covenant Paul describes consists of this: Nothing coming from us, everything from God:

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to claim anything as coming from us;[nothing coming from us, but] our sufficiency is from God[everything from God]. (2 Corinthians 3:5 RSV)
It is God at work in us that makes us act and produce this kind of living, if we are going to do it at all. If that is the New Covenant, what do you think the Old Covenant is? “Everything coming from us; nothing coming from God.”

At any given moment you are operating as a Christian on one or the other of those two. You never can draw from both at once. Jesus said so: “No man can serve two masters. Either he will love the one and hate the other or cling to one and despise the other,” Matthew 6:24). You cannot cling to both; you cannot draw from both. The only time you have to live is right now: The present is all there is; the future is not yet come; the past is gone.

You only can live in the present, and therefore the present moment is either being lived in the Old Covenant or the New, but not both.

“But,” you say, “I don’t understand that. How could a believer in Jesus Christ even act as though nothing depended on God? Of course we depend on God.” It’s amazing how easy it is to do this. We all know that God is there, but we really don’t expect him to do anything. That is the problem. And that is the great problem with the church today.

As I travel around the world I am continually astonished at how little Christians expect God to do anything, how churches are run and operated exactly like businesses, never expecting God to do a thing. Everything depends on us. It all has to be organized. It all has to be carried out by men alone.

Now God is a God of order, but he is not a God of organization, particularly. Organizations can often become the substitute for the Holy Spirit. Somebody well said that if the Holy Spirit were suddenly removed from most of the churches of this country, nobody would know that anything had happened because they were not depending on him anyway.

Let me illustrate how this can be. Think of that story of Jesus feeding the five thousand. The scene is by the seashore in the evening hours. The crowd has been listening all day and they are hungry. Philip came to Jesus and said, “Send them away. We have no bread to feed them with,” (Matthew 14:15b). Jesus said to him, “You give them bread. Give them to eat,” (Matthew 14:16). And what was Philip’s reaction? “We do not have money and the stores are all closed and we cannot get a loan from the bank and there is no way we can do this,” (John 6:7). Philip is counting on his human resources. Here is the Lord Jesus, whom he had just seen do wonderful things, standing in front of him, but he did not reckon on him at all. His reckoning was on the normal resources of life. Now, if Philip had been an atheist and Jesus had said to him, “Give you them to eat,” he would have said the same thing exactly. In other words, there is no difference between the believer and the unbeliever in the way he acts in that situation.

How often and how easily we do this. God tells us to do something and we start immediately saying, “Have I got the training, the background, the skill, the necessary knowledge. Have I had the course? Can I do this? Have I got the personality?” Now I am not implying that you don’t have to do some planning because God does direct us to do certain things and not to do other things. But the point is, whom do you reckon on when you do decide to do something? Is it you, or God in you?

That is the difference between the Old and the New Covenant. The Old is, everything comes from me, it all depends on me. If I don’t have what it takes, it can’t get done. On the other hand, your attitude can be that everything depends on God. He has called you and asked you to be his agent by which this comes. That is the New Covenant. That produces the kind of life Paul has been describing in 2 Corinthians 2:14-17. The Old produces what Paul calls in Galatians “the works of the flesh.” That is what the Old Covenant is: the flesh at work. Thus it produces the works of the flesh which he says are evident, manifest, easily visible: “The works of the flesh are plain: immorality, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like,” (Galatians 5:19-21a RSV).

That explains the struggle that Paul records for us in his own experience in Romans 7: “The thing that I would not do, that I do, and the thing that I would do, I do not,” (Romans 7:15). Have you ever felt that way? Have you ever seen a zealous, eager young Christian or older Christian desperately trying to do something for God and ending up after awhile so discouraged and defeated he just wants to quit? In fact, he probably does. But that is a very hopeful stage. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, who have come to the end of their resources,” (Matthew 5:3). Why? “For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” That is the time when God can give you something. When you have ended your own resources, then he can give you his. That is why the Old Covenant is, “Nothing coming from God, everything coming from me,” while the New Covenant is, “Everything coming from God, nothing coming from me.”

You only have to look at yourself to see how much of your life is lived in that Old Covenant. You expect success by virtue of something resident in you: your ancestry, your training, your personality, your good looks or something like that. This attitude produces the extrovert, the kind that reckons on his resources: “I’ve got what it takes, I can do that.” Now he may be very modest in his language. We learn all kinds of little subtle tricks to hide this kind of egoism. We say, “I have never really had any special training for that, but I have had some experience in it, and I will do my best.” Thus we are subtly saying to people, “I have got what it takes.” Or we look at the demands, the problem, the situation we are asked to enter into or perform, and we say, “I don’t have what it takes. I can’t do that. Don’t ask me to do a thing like that. I am one of those people that was behind the door when the gifts were passed out, and I just can’t do anything like that.” But who are you looking at when you say something like that? Yourself! You are reckoning on your “unresources” but your eye is fixed on the same person, yourself. So both the introvert and the extrovert are wrong.

Most of us introverts always envy the extroverts and wish we could be like them; but, if we did, we would only switch to the extreme which is just as bad. So we don’t improve our position by being that. What we need to discover is how to get off any trust in ourselves at all and trust in the activity of God, who has promised that he would be in us and work through us.

Philippians 2:13 has a beautiful promise in which Paul says, “Go to work to work out your own solution.” (That is what he means when he says to “work out your own salvation” not in the sense of going to heaven, but of solutions to problems that beset you.) “Work out your own solutions,” he says, “knowing that God is at work in you, both to will and to work that which pleases him.” Now the only thing that pleases God is what God himself does. Anything a man does apart from God never pleases God. It is always a failure; it is always insufficient in some area. The only thing that can please God is perfection, and the only one who can perfectly work is God himself. Therefore, the only thing, the only life that is ever pleasing to God is the life lived by faith, that is, by expecting God to be at work in you. That is what faith is. That is why Hebrewstells us, “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Hebrews 11:6), and why God tells us himself that the only life that is pleasing to him is that which he himself does. That is the New Covenant.

It helped me a great deal to learn that the Apostle Paul did not know this for at least ten years of his life as a Christian. After he was converted on the Damascus Road, he made the same mistake that every one of us makes. He started out with a bit of knowledge of who Christ was and set out to convert the world for Christ by using the brilliance of his mind, the background and training he had, and even his ancestry as a Jew to convince the Jews. He thought he had what it took and he lists a most impressive array of credentials for us in Philippians, Chapter 3. “If any of you think that you are men of the flesh,” he says, “I’ve got something more to glory in. I was a Hebrew of the Hebrews born a Jew, circumcised on the eighth day, raised up as a Pharisee, trained as a Pharisee. I was blameless before the law. My morality was without rebuke in the eyes of the religious world in which I lived. My activity was zealous. I even persecuted the church,” (Philippians 3:4-6a). He had all these things going for him. So even after he became a Christian, he reckoned on the same things for success. But, when he tried it in Damascus, not one convert is recorded. Instead they organized a lynch party! Paul had to sneak out over a wall in a basket at night, just like a criminal.

Then he came up to Jerusalem, he tells us, and there he tried the same thing. He went in and out among the Hellenists (the Greek-speaking Jews) and tried to persuade them that Jesus was the Christ. This was his own crowd. He was so sure that he had what it took to reach them. But they organized another lynch party in Jerusalem.

Finally, discouraged and defeated, Paul went into the temple to pray. The Lord Jesus appeared to him and said to him, “I want you to leave Jerusalem because they will not receive your testimony about me,” (Acts 22:18). And what did Paul say? He tells us in Acts 22. I am going to paraphrase a little bit, but in essence what he said was,

“Lord, you don’t understand this situation. You are going to miss the greatest opportunity of your life. Do you realize the equipment I have to reach these people? I was one of them. I know their language. I know their customs. I know their attitudes. If anybody has what it takes to reach these Jews it is me. You don’t know what you are doing sending me away from here. Why, this is the greatest opportunity you have ever had.” Acts 22:19-20)
But Jesus replied in one word: “Depart!” (Acts 22:21a). Then he said, “Don’t argue with me. I am going to send you far hence to the Gentiles,” (Acts 22:21b).

So Paul was sent to the hardest place on earth, his home town, Tarsus. For ten years we never hear of him again, until Barnabas goes down to Antioch where a great awakening has broken out; but he comes down to help him, he is a different man now. He has learned to shift from the Old Covenant to the New Covenant. He tells us in Philippians he learned a tremendous truth: that the things he once counted gain he now counts nothing but a pile of manure, compared with the richness and greatness of trusting in Christ to be at work in him… (Philippians 3:8).

Now that is the secret of life. That is the way man was intended to live. That is the way he did live in the beginning. When Adam was created he was a man indwelt by the Spirit of God, and therefore everything he did, he did by the power of God. Whenever Adam planted a tree, or weeded the garden, or picked up a shrub, or named the animals, or whatever it was, he did it by the wisdom and power of God. Therefore it was right. It fit the situation. It was done by God at work in him. Adam had a tremendous exhilarating sense of doing things right, knowing they were right, and doing so by virtue of the fact that he expected God who lived within him to supply what it took to do it. That is the New Covenant. When God gave him the choice of obedience, which involved Adam continuing to expect God to supply him with all the knowledge that he needed, Adam chose to disobey and he lost that whole relationship. The Spirit of God was withdrawn from his human spirit. He was plunged into the condition in which we are all born, that of counting on something in us for success. That is what destroys us.

This is basic to an understanding of human activity and the problems of human life. We have to teach people that the problem with them is that they are counting on the wrong resource. This is a painstaking lesson, one not easily learned. We must patiently set it forth and carefully show how it lies in the Scriptures, and then help people to recognize the flesh (the old life at work within them) and analyze various situations to see whether it was the Old or the New Covenant they are drawing on.

Nothing is more basic to getting people operating rightly than this. The Old Covenant is totally rejected by God. It is what the Bible calls “the flesh,” and the “flesh cannot please God,” (Romans 8:8 KJV). The flesh results in death, which is the experience of negative qualities in life, like boredom, worry, anxiety, hostility, anger, greed, etc. That is death and that comes by trusting in something you think you have got in yourself.

This does not mean that people become robots. The choosing is left up to us, just as it was to Adam. The power of choice is what is given to men, not the power to do. The minute you choose to act, something else must supply the power within you. Either it is the old twisted form of life called “the flesh,” or it is the new life from the Spirit which will produce “the fruit of the Spirit,” (Galatians 5:22). But the key is that you must reject the old, then you can choose the new.

Most of us know something about this life in the Spirit. We try to live this way, but the trouble is that we try to hang on to both. I find this everywhere. Talk to people about Body Life, for instance, in a church beginning to function this way, and you find they want to keep the whole program the way it is now and add Body Life to it. Nobody ever wants to tear down anything or get rid of anything, but until they do so they cannot put in anything new. That is what Jesus meant when he said, “You cannot put new wine into old wine skins. You cannot put new patches onto old garments,” (Matthew 9:15-16).You have got to get rid of it and start with everything fresh, in a sense. But we want to cling to the old, a dependence on something in us, and add God to it.

Do you ever see that in your prayers? Do you ever come to God and say, “Lord, I have worked this all out, I want you to bless it”? What is that saying? “It all depends on me. I want you to make it work, that’s all.” That is trying to mix the old and the new, and it will never work. You cannot do it. God will never go along with that process. He just folds his arms and says, “If that is the way you want to do it, you do it. I’ll watch you.” And he watches us until we fall flat on our face. But when we are discouraged, after finding out it did not work, and cry out, “Lord, help me,” he says, “Here I am. I have been here all along and I am willing to work through you right now, as long as you quit working, depending on yourself.”

This means that we are agents, not instruments. God allows us to make the choices and he works through us. We very definitely have decisions to make in these matters, and without these decisions it won’t work. But once we decide something, once we feel that we know what God wants us to do, then what do we count on to do it? That is the great question. That is what this New Covenant is all about.

Replies to comments and questions from the audience:

Both boredom and anger are fleshly reactions. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, patience, etc., and also excitement. God is exciting and his kind of life is exciting. But when you are living in the Spirit, it does not mean that you are keyed up to a high pitch all the time; I don’t want to give that idea. But life in the Spirit is never boring. It may be frightening, almost. Life can be filled with such intense problems that you hardly know how you are going to get through them, but you are not bored. You may even be scared, for fear and trembling is part of the Christian life. But not boredom, or anger. There is a right kind of anger, but there is also an impatient anger that is wrong. For example, we will see somebody operating in the flesh and we get upset or irritated with them, so then we are operating in the flesh. This is why, in that beautiful story of the woman taken in adultery, Jesus judged the judges. He would not let them sit there and self-righteously point their finger at this woman. He pointed his finger at them and said, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone,” (John 8:7).

Q. Is there a point in your life when you really come into the New Covenant, and you can recognize it, and live in it for days or weeks?

A. I would say that it is very unlikely that you would live for days and weeks in the New Covenant, simply because the enemy we are up against is very clever. The flesh is very deceitful. It is very unlikely, in my judgment, that you would live even a full day in the Spirit. Be glad if it is a few hours. But you never have to live long in the flesh. That is the point. You may catch yourself living in the flesh. (I do not mean tempted to live in it, that is a different thing. We must distinguish between the temptation to get angry, or to envy or lust or whatever it is. That is not sin in itself. It is how we deal with it that makes the difference.) But if we yield to it, we ought not to yield very long. We ought to learn to quickly recognize the flesh. That is the point. Irritability, upset, impatience, anxiety, whatever it may be, immediately recognize it, renounce it as being no longer necessary to us, immediately flee to the Lord and lay it before him. Then we are returned to the Spirit immediately, and we go on until the next fall occurs (which may not be very far down the road).

So the Christian life is not a continual life of unbroken victory, although ideally that would be possible. Jesus undoubtedly lived that way, but we don’t have that kind of understanding and recognition of the flesh, so we are apt to be trapped more. That is why the grace of forgiveness is provided for us, because those falls do not impede our progress if we return to the Lord. We have not lost it all by falling, since it did not depend on us in the beginning. If we ever begin to think, “Here I have been making it now for two and a half days — and now look at me. I have fallen again and all that time is wasted.” That shows you that you do not understand the New Covenant. It was not coming from you all that time anyhow. Return to your source of strength, thank God for being shown what was wrong, and then go on.

Notice how Paul often speaks of himself as approaching a demand made upon him with fear and trembling. Jesus did so too. When he went into the Garden of Gethsemane, he said, “My soul is deeply troubled within me,” (Matthew 26:38). He asked the disciples to pray with him because of this. Fear and trembling is simply a recognition of weakness, of inability. It is a normal thing in human life. It is the way we ought to approach every situation. But don’t stop there. It isn’t just fear and trembling; it is fear and trembling that leads us to faith, to the confidence that God is there and he will do it. Therefore we need no longer fear and tremble. But to be frightened and feel a bit nervous or upset by any demand made upon us is a proper thing and not one that we should try to cure.

Q. It is easy to think of the New Covenant in terms of the Lord and the apostles, the New Testament, etc., but how about Moses and the Old Testament?

A. Moses is the symbol of the Old Covenant, but he lived by the New. The Old Testament saints did understand and live by the New Covenant, even though it had not yet been historically laid. The New Covenant is laid in the blood of Jesus: “This blood of the New Covenant which was made with many for the remission of sin,” (Matthew 26:28). But as the Old Testament saints were saved by the death of Christ, just as much as we, so they lived by his life, just as much as we. When Moses, therefore, was reckoning upon God to empower him to speak to Pharaoh and trusted God to fulfill his word that he would put his words into Moses’s lips, he was living by the New Covenant. Now there were failures in Moses’s life, just as there are in ours. He disobeyed God when he struck the rock, when he should have spoken to it. As a result, he was not permitted to enter into the promised land. But he himself was restored by the activity of God at work in him, even though a limitation was set upon his leadership. As Moses himself was restored to God at work in him and went on, so we can go on to be productive and effective persons.

Yet as a type, Moses stands as a symbol of the Old Covenant because he is associated with the Law, and the Law is always linked to the flesh. If there were no flesh, there would never have been any Law. Adam and Eve were never given the Law. They did not need it. They had the law written in their hearts, as they were trusting the work of God within them. They knew what was the right thing to do in any given situation and that is the way we are to live too — by the Spirit. This is why Paul argues that the Law is ended the minute we believe. But the minute we disbelieve, the Law comes in again in order to show us our unbelief.

The Law as a standard of life will never change. The Law is nothing but an expression of the character of God, and God never changes his character. If we are to be like God, then that demand is always upon us, no matter how long the world, the heavens, and the earth last. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but these words [the words of the law] will never pass away,” (Matthew 24:35, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33), because they reflect the character of God. In that sense, the Law remains always. But when you believe in Christ, it is the end of the Law for you. You do not need the Law making demands upon you then. I am not talking about becoming Christian when I say, “believe in Christ,” I mean trusting him as a Christian. In any moment that you expect him to be at work in you and to supply you with his life in you and you are counting on that, then you do not need any law. But the minute you stop doing that, you need law again. It is right there waiting to correct you.

In that sense, the Law only ends by faith. This is what Paul says in Romans: “Christ is the end of the law to everyone who believes,” (Romans 10:4 KJV). Now don’t quote that as, “Christ is the end of the Law.” That would contradict what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount: “The law shall never pass away,” (Matthew 5:18). Christ is the end of the law to everyone who believes. The minute you act by faith you are not acting by law, because faith and works are exactly contrary to one another. When you try to obey the Law because it is there, that is works. But when you respond to the God who is in you, and act on that basis, that is faith. Then you will fulfill the Law another way.

Ray Steadman

courtesy of http://www.raysteadman.org

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Memorizing and Meditating on the Word of God

how-to-meditate-on-the-word-of-godBefore Jesus left for Calvary, He encouraged His fearful disciples with these words –

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.” (Jn 14:26)

While this passage is one that uniquely applied to the disciples, it is applicable in principle to all believers. Indeed, the principle in John 14:26 begs the question “How can the Spirit bring to mind Scriptures that we have not previously stored in our mind?”

As John Butler says “The principle for believers is that the Holy Spirit helps us to remember Scripture and spiritual lessons. When a verse pops into the mind when teaching, preaching, studying or pondering a decision of some sort—it is not your memory that is bringing that text to your mind, but it is the prompting of the Holy Spirit that is doing it. However, for the Holy Spirit to prompt your memory, you must have previously stored the Scripture in your memory. The Holy Spirit is like the recall button on a calculator—if you do not put anything in memory in the calculator, the recall button will not bring up any information.” (Analytical Bible Expositor: John)

Beloved, let me encourage you to have a healthy spiritual diet and to daily “eat” His Word as if your very (spiritual) life depended on it, because it does! (Mt 4:4, Job 23:12note, Jer 15:16note, Ps 119:109note, etc).

God’s instructions to Joshua preparatory to entering the promised land to fight the good fight of faith in order to possess his promised possessions remains a proven “formula for spiritual success” for saints today who like Joshua have been set apart that we might become experiential possessors of our positional possession of every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your wayprosperous, and then you will have success. (Joshua 1:8note)

The best thing.
In the best place.
With the best of results.

David, a man after God’s own heart writes…

The law of his God is in his heart. His steps do not slip (Psalm 37:31)

Spurgeon comments: “The best thing in the best place, producing the best results. Well might the man’s talk be so admirable when his heart was so well stored. To love holiness, to have the motives and desires sanctified, to be in one’s inmost nature obedient to the Lord — this is the surest method of making the whole run of our life efficient for its great ends, and even for securing the details of it, our steps from any serious mistake. To keep the even tenor of one’s way, in such times as these, is given only to those whose hearts are sound towards God, who can, as in the text, call God their God. Policy slips and trips, it twists and tacks, and after all is worsted in the long run, but sincerity plods on its plain pathway and reaches the goal.”

John Trapp commenting on the phrase “The law of his God is in his heart” in Ps 37:31 adds: “He hath a Bible in his head, and another in his heart; he hath a good treasure within, and there hence bringeth good things.”

How sweet are Thy words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth (Psalm 119:103, cp Ps 19:10)!

Spurgeon comments: He had not only heard the words of God, but fed upon them: they affected his palate as well as his ear. God’s words are many and varied, and the whole of them make up what we call “the word”: David (Ed: The author of Ps 119 is not known for certain although many think it was David) loved them each one, individually, and the whole of them as a whole; he tasted an indescribable sweetness in them. He expresses the fact of their sweetness, but as he cannot express the degree of their sweetness he cries, “How sweet!” Being God’s words they were divinely sweet to God’s servant; he who put the sweetness into them had prepared the taste of his servant to discern and enjoy it. David makes no distinction between promises and precepts, doctrines and threatenings; they are all included in God’s words, and all are precious in his esteem. Oh for a deep love to all that the Lord has revealed, whatever form it may take. (Amen!)

Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth. When he did not only eat but also speak the Word (Ed: Which is one of the advantages of memorizing it!), by instructing others, he felt an increased delight in it. The sweetest of all temporal things fall short of the infinite deliciousness of the eternal word. When the psalmist fed on it he found it sweet; but when he bore witness of it, it became sweeter still. How wise it will be on our part to keep the word on our palate (Ed: How better than by treasuring it in our heart! cp Mt 12:34, Lk 6:45) by meditation and on our tongue by confession. It must be sweet to our taste when we think of it, or it will not be Sweet to our mouth when we talk of it.

They (God’s Words = Ps 19:7, 8, 9note) are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; Sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb. (Psalm 19:10)

Spurgeon Comments: More to be desired are they than fine gold, yea, than much fine gold. Bible truth is enriching to the soul in the highest degree; the metaphor is one which gathers force as it is brought out; — gold — fine gold — much fine gold; it is good, better, best, and therefore it is not only to be desired with a miser’s avidity, but with more than that. As spiritual treasure is more noble than mere material wealth, so should it be desired and sought after with greater eagerness. Men speak of solid gold, but what is so solid as solid truth? For love of gold pleasure is forsworn, ease renounced, and life endangered; shall we not be ready to do as much for love of truth?

Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb. Trapp says, “Old people are all for profit, the young for pleasure; here’s gold for the one, yea, the finest gold in great quantity; here’s honey for the other, yea, live honey dropping from the comb.” The pleasures arising from a right understanding of the divine testimonies are of the most delightful order; earthly enjoyments are utterly contemptible, if compared with them. The sweetest joys, yea, the sweetest of the sweetest falls to his portion who has God’s truth to be his heritage….The inexpressible delights of meditation on Scripture.

Thomas Watson comments: Love the word written. Ps 119:97 (read Spurgeon’s note, especially his comments on “Meditation”). “Oh, how love I thy law!” “Lord,” said Augustine, “let the holy Scriptures be my chaste delight.” Chrysostom compares the Scripture to a garden, every truth is a fragrant flower, which we should wear, not on our bosom, but in our heart. David counted the word “sweeter than honey and the honeycomb.” There is that in Scripture which may breed delight. It shows us the way to riches: Dt 28:5 Pr 3:10; to long life: Ps 34:12note; to a kingdom: He 12:28. Well, then, may we count those the sweetest hours which are spent in reading the holy Scriptures; well may we say with the prophet (Je 15:16), “Thy words were found and I ate them, and Thy words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I have been called by Thy name, O LORD God of hosts.”

Aldous Huxley (who was interested in the supernatural but was not a believer) made a statement that relates to Scripture memorization when he declared that “Each man’s memory is his private literature.” (Interesting thought!)

Isaac Watts – Without memory the soul of man would be a poor, destitute, naked being, with an everlasting blank spread over it, except the fleeting ideas of the present moment.

William Evans – It has been said that “all other abilities of the mind borrow from memory their beauty and perfection.” In a very real sense it is true that all other faculties of the soul are useless without memory. Of what profit is all our wisdom, our reading, our study if we are unable to preserve the knowledge we have acquired? Of what benefit to us are all the intellectual attainments of our lives if they are lost as soon as they are obtained? Memory makes rich the mind by preserving all the results of our study and learning…Memory is the treasurer of the mind. (How to Memorize)

Rob Morgan – Think of (Bible memorization) as a shopping spree for the mind, a chance to collect and store up treasures you’ll enjoy for years (Ed: I would add for eternity!, cp 1Ti 4:7-8note, Isa 40:8, Mt 24:35). Restoring the art of Scripture memory is crucial for us, our churches, and children. It’s vital for mental and emotional health and for spiritual well-being. Though it’s as easy as repeating words aloud, it’s as powerful as acorns dropping into furrows in the forest. It makes the Bible portable; you can take it with you everywhere without packing it in purse or briefcase. It makes Scripture accessible day and night. It allows God’s Word to sink into your brain and permeate your subconscious and even your unconscious thoughts (Ed: Illustrationthink of a tea bag dipped in a cup of hot water – the more it is dipped, the greater the permeation of the water by the flavor of the tea. God’s Word is the “flavor” and our heart is the cup!). It gives you a word to say to anyone, in season and out of season. It fills your heart and home with the best thoughts ever recorded. It saturates the personality, satiates the soul, and stockpiles the mind. It changes the atmosphere of every family and alters the weather forecast of every day. It takes one minute a day, or five or ten—whatever you can devote to it. It can be done in your bath, your bed, at your desk, or in an airplane (you can’t say all that about too many things). It can be done on the go, in traffic jams, while shaving, at sunup, or before bedtime. It can be done alone, with another person, or in groups. It’s an amazingly versatile habit but also a vital one, profitable whether we’re in the nursery or in the nursing home. (100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart- Robert J. Morgan – Highly Recommended) (Also available on Wordsearch Bible software)

Free resources –

C H Spurgeon tells a story which illustrates the importance of “internalizing” the Word of God…

Now what is a diamond? Suppose it is one worth two hundred thousand pounds — and some of those I have mentioned are said to be worth more than that — yet it is nothing but a little solidified gas. This diamond may fitly represent the whole world, with all its pomp’s, and vanities, and pleasures, and glories. Puff! it’s gone into thin air; death turns; it all to gas. Set your affections on those things which time cannot destroy, which eternity cannot impair.

There is a very beautiful story connected with the “Sancy” or “De Sancy” diamond, which is said to be worth about eighty thousand pounds. It is a comparatively small stone; and if I were stupid enough to wear such ornaments, I could wear it on my finger, if set in a ring. This stone was sent on one occasion by the Baron de Sancy, to whom it belonged, to his king, who was in ‘want of cash, and had proposed getting a loan of 40,000 pounds. The diamond was to be the security; in fact, to put it plainly, it was “to be left at the pawnbroker’s.” The Baron gave the stone to a trusty servant to take to the king. The servant disappeared, and people suspected that he had gone off with the diamond; but his master declared that he knew his servant too well to believe such a thing possible.

After some time the servant’s body was found, a little way from the road: he had been murdered and robbed. The Baron commanded that his clothes should be carefully searched for the missing diamond; but it could not be. found. He then ordered that he should be cut open, and the diamond was found in his body. He had swallowed the gem, which he had been unable in any other way to conceal from the robbers.

We should carry the truth of God within ourselves, in our hearts; so that if we were dissected, there would be found the truth of God in our innermost being. You remember that the Psalmist said, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against Thee.” (Ps 119:11) (What the Stones Say)

Do you have difficulty memorizing Scripture? You are not alone. The most common reasons I hear for not memorizing Scripture are “Bible verses are for the children” or “I don’t have a good memory” or “I’m too old to memorize” and probably the most honest “It’s too much work and to tell you the truth I’m just too lazy!” But considering the advantages of memorization and meditation gleaned from just the two verses quoted above should be reason enough to motivate every believer to seriously consider (or re-consider) Scripture memorization as an integral part of disciplining (gymnazo – what does this sound like? what does it say about “spiritual discipline? Will it be a “no brainer”? Obviously not.) ourselves

“for the purpose of godliness” which “is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1Ti 4:7, 8notes).

As an aside note that Paul is not giving Timothy [or us] a suggestion but is commanding [Present imperative] that spiritual discipline be an integral component of one’s lifestyle, one’s daily delight! Be careful! Don’t fall into the subtle trap of legalism! Memorizing God’s Word is to be our our delight, not our dread, not our drudgery! All of God’s commandments come pre-packaged with all necessary components because His commandment always includes His enablement. The only way redeemed but still fallen men and women can keep the command continually (which is what the present tense calls for) is by continual yielding to and dependence on the Holy Spirit! The Holy Spirit is God’s provision of enablement for every commandment! May our Father grant each of us to continually walk in the freedom and power that found only in the Spirit of Jesus our Lord and Savior. Amen

If we truly believed what Paul wrote his young protégée Timothy, I think we would take the approach of the suffering saint Job who declared…

I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured (tsaphan = same Hebrew word found in Psalm 119:11 – “I have treasured [tsaphan] Thy Word…”) the words of His mouth more than my necessary food. (Job 23:12note)

Two verses earlier Job had made the incredible (considering what transpired in his life in Job1 and Job 2!) declaration…

But He knows the way I take. When He has tried (bachan/bahan = Investigation to determine essential qualities of object – for an informative study see the 9 uses in Ps 7:9; 11:4-5; 17:3; 26:2; 66:10; 81:7; 95:9; 139:23 – note 3 synonyms in Ps 26:2, the first “examine” = bachan/bahan) me, I shall come forth as gold. (Job 23:10note)

Here’s the question — Do you see any relationship between Job 23:10note and Job 23:12note? Specifically, do these verses suggest some insight into how Job was able to persevere (“You have heard of the “endurance of Job” James 5:11) in the face of incredible sufferings and afflictions? I think you see the point — the value of Scripture memorization in surviving in a cannot be overemphasized!

I hear so many serious believers say “I ought to begin memorizing Scripture” only to find out weeks or months later they never followed through. Let me encourage you. Today is the best day in your life to begin the adventure of “eating” God’s Word in Scripture memorization. You will never regret your decision to launch out into the “great adventure” that lays ahead.

For additional motivation, read through some of the articles in the next section and then in the following section consider one of the established programs to begin your journey. If you would rather not use a computerized program, I would recommend the Navigator’s Topical Memory System – TMS (see also Scripture Memory Secrets) because it won’t overwhelm you and yet is still solid food which if you practice it, will train (gumnazo) your senses…to discern (diakrisis) good and evil. (He 5:14note).

The Bible is the language of heaven, and will not pass away (Mt 24:35), so let us enter into this spiritual discipline with delight, great joy and a sense of expectation, not out of a sense of guilt, legalism or onerous duty. We are not our own but are children and “bond-servants (doulos) of the Most High God” (In the OT the Name is El Elyon – Sovereign Over All) (Acts 16:17), who should be motivated by the love of Christ (2Cor 5:14) to have as our earnest “ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him” (2Cor 5:9) As with any “spiritual discipline” there is always the subtle danger of becoming pharisaical or prideful and we are ever in danger of failing prey to a subtle form of legalism.


JOHN PIPER’S TESTIMONY
RE: MEMORIZING THE WORD

At the beginning of 2009, John Piper challenged his congregation to memorize Scripture in his sermon entitled If My Words Abide in You

(John Piper began this sermon by reciting Psalm 1, Psalm 16, Psalm 103, Romans 5:1–8, Romans 8, Matthew 6:25–34, and 1 Corinthians 13.)

The point of reciting these Scriptures is to motivate you by way of example to memorize Scripture in 2009. This message is a mingling of my testimony of the value of memorizing Scripture with Jesus’ testimony in the Gospel of John.

My Testimony

My testimony can be summed up in eight short sentences.

Memorizing Scripture makes meditation possible at times when I can’t be reading the Bible, and meditation is the pathway of deeper understanding.

Memorizing Scripture strengthens my faith because faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ, and that happens when I am hearing the word in my head.

Memorizing Scripture shapes the way I view the world by conforming my mind to God’s viewpoint.

Memorizing Scripture makes God’s word more readily accessible for overcoming temptation to sin, because God’s warnings and promises are the way we conquer the deceitful promises of sin.

Memorizing Scripture guards my mind by making it easier to detect error—and the world is filled with error, since the god of this world is a liar.

Memorizing Scripture enables me to hit the devil in the face with a force he cannot resist, and so protect myself and my family from his assaults.

Memorizing Scripture provides the strongest and sweetest words for ministering to others in need.

Memorizing Scripture provides the matrix for fellowship with Jesus because he talks to me through his word, and I talk to him in prayer.

That’s my testimony. I hope it will motivate you to make your own discoveries. But what matters most is the testimony of Jesus. So focus for a few minutes with me on a phrase in John 15:7. (If My Words Abide in You)

Pastor Ray Stedman has a great discussion of the danger believers face in this area of legalism. His transcript is very good but if you have time I would recommend listening to his message as it adds inflections, etc, not possible in a written document. (Legalism – transcript or Legalism – Mp3)

The practice of Jesus Himself is ample testimony to the value of Scripture memorization. Jesus said Thus saith the Lord or God said or It is written or Have you not read that it was said 92 times! Clearly our Lord Jesus Christ, fully God and fully Man, left an example (hupogrammos) for (us) to follow in His steps (1Pe 2:21note). As Paul commanded the saints at Ephesus we should be imitators (mimetes) of God, as belovedchildren (Ep 5:1note)

Many years ago the village priest in Kalonovaka, Russia, took a special liking to a pug-nosed lad who recited his Scriptures with proper piety. By offering various inducements, the priest managed to teach the boy the four Gospels, which he recited nonstop in church one day. Sixty years later he still liked to recite Scriptures, but in a context that would have horrified the old priest. The prize pupil who memorized so much of the Bible was Nikita Khrushchev, former premier of the Soviet Union! John W. Alexander, former president of InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, gives us this warning:

“There is little merit inherent in the mere process of memorizing Scripture. One could memorize voluminous portions and be an atheist. Satan memorized enough to use it to tempt Jesus…Memorizing is helpful when we yearn for Scripture to energize our whole lives….What makes the difference between superficial and beneficial Scripture memorization? I believe it is prayerful meditation. Memorization in itself may sharpen our intellectual capacities, but that’s about all. Memorization with a view to meditation helps us think straight in a crooked world. (excepted from Memorizing God’s Word)

Dr. Howard Hendricks has made the statement (and I paraphrase) that if it were his decision, every student graduating from Dallas Theological Seminary would be required to learn 1000 verses word perfect before they received their degree. May his tribe increase!

Well known Bible teacher Dr. Chuck Swindoll has written:

“I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture…No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified.” (from Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life)

Considering such indisputable benefits to one’s spiritual health, one has to wonder why there is not more emphasis on Scripture memory and meditation in the average American church. Could it be that it is still true that

When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart? (Mt 13:19)

But (Jesus introduces a dramatic contrast) the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest (kalos) and good (agathos) heart (kardia), and hold it fast, and bearfruit (karpophoreo in the present tense = they have the blessing of being continually “spiritually fertile and fruitful” bearing fruit that will last throughout eternity – Jn 15:16NIV, Jn 15:5, 8) – Do miss this “once in a lifetime offer too good to refuse”! You only go around once! cp James 4:14, Jas 1:10, 11note, 1Pe 1:24note, Job 7:7, Ps 103:15note) with perseverance (hupomone). (Lk 8:15).

So brothers and sisters let us persevere with great delight in this discipline of Scriptural memorization for one day we will discover the glorious truth that this was one of the most fruitful investments of our time that we could have ever made in this life.

INVEST IN A “STOCK”
THAT WILL NEVER DECLINE
AND WILL PAY DIVIDENDS FOR ETERNITY!

In my own practice of memorizing God’s Word, I have found that one of the most critical aspects (other than a constant dependence on prayer that God might graciously grant me a heart hunger to eat His Word) is frequent and systematic review of verses. I use a “multi-pronged attack” including: Typing or writing out scripture on small cards that I keep in my pocket for those times I’m stuck in elevators, long winded meetings or long lines at the super market. I also dictate the current verses I am focusing on into a mini recorder (Ipods work too) which is great for redeeming those times I get caught in traffic jams on the freeway and allows you to have several cassettes of your “favorite” verses. Most of these recording devices allow easy playback so that you can keep your eye on the road while driving. I also keep a small pocket sized Bible close at hand (car, briefcase, etc) to allow quick review of verses in context and I highlight those verses I have already memorized.

The Bible on tape/CD/Mp3 is another great modality, especially if you have a long commute time. CD versions are advantageous because they can be quickly “rewound’ to the beginning of a chapter to facilitate repetition. REMEMBER that NONE of these ideas or the resources below are of any value in memorizing the Word of God if you have not first sought the God of the Word. Otherwise all of these “tools” can be misused and potentially produce pride, pedantry and a Pharisaical attitude as alluded to earlier. The foundational keynote of “humility” is sounded by James who reminds us after

putting aside (apotithemi) all filthiness (rhuparia) and all that remains (perisseia) of wickedness (kakia), in HUMILITY (prautes KJV = “meekness” – with a meek disposition, a gentleness of spirit) receive (dechomai) the word (logos) implanted (emphutos), which is able (dunamai) to save (sozo) your souls (Jas 1:21note, cp the attitude of a little child in Mt 18:3,4)

As someone has well said sin will keep you from the Bible or the Bible will keep you from sin. Bibles that are “falling apart” usually belong to people who are not.

THE MEMORIZED “WORD OF LIFE”
IS THERE WHEN YOU NEED IT!

Beloved, you never know when you might need to recall the memorized Word. Darlene Diebler Rose was a missionary who was captured by the Japanese in WWII and spent four years in a prison camp. Below is her testimony to the power of God’s memorized Word, which truly became to her the “Word of Life!”

As a child and young person, I had had a driving compulsion to memorize the written Word (Ed: One cannot help but believe this was the All Seeing God’s gracious providence, His Spirit giving her the desire and power to “eat” His Word, for God knew WWII was coming!). In the cell I was grateful now for those days in Vacation Bible School, when I had memorized many single verses, complete chapters, and Psalms, as well as whole books of the Bible (Ed: Are you as convicted as I am?). In the years that followed, I reviewed the Scriptures often (Ed: This is the key – review, review, review!). The Lord fed me with the Living Bread that had been stored against the day when fresh supply was cut off by the loss of my Bible. He brought daily comfort and encouragement—yes, and joy (Ed: Cp 1Thes 1:6) —to my heart through the knowledge of the Word. . . . I had never needed the Scriptures more than in these months on death row, but since so much of His Word was there in my heart, it was not the punishment the Kempeitai had anticipated when they took my Bible. (Evidence Not Seen- A Woman’s Miraculous Faith in the Jungles of World War II- Darlene Deibler Rose)

A CONTEXTUAL
CAUTION

One note of caution – Be careful when memorizing single verses that you do not “wrench” them out of their context, lest you give the passage a meaning (and an interpretation) God never intended. Always examine the context surrounding the verse you are memorizing or even better memorize larger sections of Scripture, including chapters or even entire books.

As Billy Graham once said…

I am convinced that one of the greatest things we can do is to memorize Scripture.

When was the last time you memorized a passage of Scripture? God’s Word has a cleansing effect. You must (no excuses please – I include myself here!) get into the Word so that it can get into you and can then become effective in your life, as the Spirit uses it (“the washing with water through the word” – Ep 5:26note) to renew your mind and transform your thinking (Ro 12:2note) so that you are enabled more and more to discern the will of God (Eph 4:14note; He 5:14note). The Word daily imbibed and diligently obeyed is one of the best protectors and preventatives against the polluting power of this present evil age (Gal 1:4), an age which is in the process of passing away as are even it’s evil desires (1Jn 2:17note).

William Evans (1910) writes…

A few suggestions will be helpful here.

1. Memorize the location of the verse together with the verse. You will find it just as easy to say, “John 1:29, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” as you would if you merely said, “Behold the Lamb of God,” etc., omitting to state the reference.

2. Learn it. Don’t get a faint, indefinite idea. If you want to remember any text in after years, let it make a deep, clear and vivid impression on your mind the moment you learn it.

3. Read the verse over, say twenty times; close your Bible and see if you can repeat it correctly, then to be sure, read it again. Once writing the verse is worth a dozen repetitions of it by mouth.

4. Review. This is the secret of memorizing. Review every day, every week, every mouth, and every year.

5. Practice. Use the passages of Scripture. Seek occasions for talking to persons who have difficulties.

See also William Evans’ book “How to Memorize


Why Memorize Scripture?
by John Piper

First, a few testimonies:

I have it third hand, that Dr. Howard Hendricks of Dallas Seminary once made the statement (and I paraphrase) that if it were his decision, every student graduating from Dallas Theological Seminary would be required to learn one thousand verses word perfect before they graduated.

Chuck Swindoll wrote,

I know of no other single practice in the Christian life more rewarding, practically speaking, than memorizing Scripture. . . . No other single exercise pays greater spiritual dividends! Your prayer life will be strengthened. Your witnessing will be sharper and much more effective. Your attitudes and outlook will begin to change. Your mind will become alert and observant. Your confidence and assurance will be enhanced. Your faith will be solidified” (Growing Strong in the Seasons of Life [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994], p. 61).

One of the reasons Martin Luther came to his great discovery in the Bible of justification by faith alone was that in his early years in the Augustinian monastery he was influenced to love Scripture by Johann Staupitz. Luther devoured the Bible in a day when people earned doctorates in theology without even reading the Bible. Luther said that his fellow professor, Andreas Karlstadt, did not even own a Bible when he earned his doctor of theology degree, nor did he until many years later (Bucher, Richard. “Martin Luther’s Love for the Bible”). Luther knew so much of the Bible from memory that when the Lord opened his eyes to see the truth of justification in Ro 1:17note, he said, “Thereupon I ran through the Scriptures from memory,” in order to confirm what he had found.

So here are a few reasons why so many have viewed Scripture memorization as so essential to the Christian life.

1. Conformity to Christ

Paul wrote that

we all, . . . beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2Cor 3:18)

If we would be changed into Christ likeness we must steadily see him. This happens in the word.

The Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord” (1Sa 3:21).

Bible memorization has the effect of making our gaze on Jesus steadier and clearer.

2. Daily Triumph over Sin

How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. . . . I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:9note, Ps 119:11note).

Paul said that we must

by the Spirit . . . put to death the [sinful] deeds of the body” (Ro 8:13note).

The one piece of armor used to kill is the “sword of the Spirit” which is the word of God (Ep 6:17note). As sin lures the body into sinful action, we call to mind a Christ-revealing word of Scripture and slay the temptation with the superior worth and beauty of Christ over what sin offers.

Remember however as John Blanchard has warned…

There is more to Christian growth than knowing what the Bible says; nobody is ever nourished by memorizing menus.

3. Daily Triumph over Satan

When Jesus was tempted by Satan in the wilderness he recited Scripture from memory and put Satan to flight (Mt 4:1-11).

4. Comfort and Counsel for People You Love

The times when people need you to give them comfort and counsel do not always coincide with the times you have your Bible handy. Not only that, the very word of God spoken spontaneously from your heart has unusual power. Pr 25:11 says, “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver.” That is a beautiful way of saying, When the heart full of God’s love can draw on the mind full of God’s word, timely blessings flow from the mouth.

5. Communicating the Gospel to Unbelievers

Opportunities to share the gospel come when we do not have the Bible in hand. Actual verses of the Bible have their own penetrating power. And when they come from our heart, as well as from the Book, the witness is given that they are precious enough to learn. We should all be able to sum up the gospel under four main headings (1) God’s holiness/law/glory; (2) man’s sin/rebellion/disobedience; (3) Christ’s death for sinners; (4) the free gift of life by faith. Learn a verse or two relating to each of these, and be ready in season and out of season to share them.

6. Communion with God in the Enjoyment of His Person and Ways

The way we commune with (that is, fellowship with) God is by meditating on his attributes and expressing to him our thanks and admiration and love, and seeking his help to live a life that reflects the value of these attributes. Therefore, storing texts in our minds about God helps us relate to him as he really is. For example, imagine being able to call this to mind through the day:

The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He will not always chide, nor will He keep His anger forever. He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us. As a father shows compassion to his children, so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear Him. For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. (Ps 103:8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14notes)

I used the word “enjoyment” intentionally when I said, “communion with God in the enjoyment of his person and ways.” Most of us are emotionally crippled—all of us, really. We do not experience God in the fullness of our emotional potential. How will that change? One way is to memorize the emotional expressions of the Bible and speak them to the Lord and to each other until they become part of who we are. For example, in Psalm 103:1note, we say,

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name!

That is not a natural expression for many people. But if we memorize this and other emotional expressions from the Bible, and say them often, asking the Lord to make the emotion real in our hearts, we can actually grow into that emotion and expression. It will become part of who we are. We will be less emotionally crippled and more able to render proper praise and thanks to God.

There are other reasons for memorizing Scripture. I hope you find them in the actual practice.

Listen to John Piper discuss his approach to memorizing Scripture. Two of the keys? Pray for discipline and set aside time. How do you memorize Scripture?


Simon Kistemaker on his comments on Jude 1:17 makes a statement that relates to Bible memorization…

In the days of the apostles, the believers relied on memory for the singing of psalms and hymns in their worship services. They learned by heart numerous messianic passages from the Old Testament and retained the message of the gospel they had heard from the apostles. They were forced to develop their retentive memories because they had only limited access to the written books of Scripture kept in local churches. In our day we have become accustomed to relying on the written word and therefore fail to exercise our memories. We claim that as long as we are able to refer to something in print, we have no need to memorize it. Our minds, then, are like erasable boards; we retain facts for immediate use but soon replace them with new information.

This mind-set also prevails when we worship God on the Lord’s day. Routinely we enter the sanctuary each Sunday morning to hear the pastor preach, yet our minds will retain his message for only a few days. As statistics show, during a given Sunday we retain only 30 percent of the sermon the pastor preaches that day. This percentage dwindles to less than 5 percent by the last day of that same week.

In the Old and New Testaments, however, we are told to treasure God’s Word. The psalmist rejoices in that Word and confides to God, “I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Ps. 119:11). And Jesus exhorts the churches in Thyatira and Philadelphia with these words: “Only hold on to what you have until I come” (Rev. 2:25; with variation, Rev 3:11). (Exposition of the Epistles of Peter and the Epistle of Jude)


 

From Valley Bible Church (Why Memorize)

Why we should memorize Scripture

A. It helps us

1. It renews our mind (Romans 12:2)

2. Purifies our heart (Psalm 119:9; Hebrews 4:12)

3. It helps us resisting temptation (Psalm 119:11; Matthew 4:1-11)

4. It helps us to know God (Psalm 119:10)

5. It provides guidance (Ephesians 5:17)

6. It aids us in worshipping God (John 4:24; cf. John 17:17)

7. We are commanded to meditate on God’s Word (Joshua 1:8)

8. It helps our prayer life (John 15:7)

9. It helps our study of the Bible (2 Timothy 2:15)

10. It can protect us against wrong doctrine (Ephesians 4:14)

B. It helps others

1. It helps us to evangelize unbelievers (ex. Acts 2:14-36)

2. It helps us to teach believers (Psalm 119:24)

Why we don’t memorize Scripture

Excuse: “I have a poor memory.”

Excuse: “I don’t have time.”

Excuse: “I am too old.”

Excuse: “I have tried before and failed.”

Excuse: “Why bother now that I have my new computer program.”

Excuse: “Memorizing Scripture will make me spiritually proud.”

The real reason is that we choose not to.

Bible memory verses often taken out of context

A verse out of context is a pretext. We all have probably used Bible verses to say things that are simply not meant by the biblical author. We should understand what the Bible says and not divorce words from their context. Bible verses are often taken out of context when we have heard others use a verse in a certain way and believe that understanding to be correct. Then every time we read the verse in the Bible we impart to the verse what we think the meaning is, rather than reading it for what it says. This is a problem even if our misunderstanding does not lead us into doctrinal error. We still miss the true meaning of the verse that is misused. Furthermore, it begins to warp the context for other verses

Romans 8:28 – “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.” The common understanding – God works everything out for our good. The correct understanding -God works all things together for good as long as the condition is met: We must love God and be called according to His purpose. This certainly does not apply to everyone. Loving God and being called according to His purpose are two sides of the same coin. If this is true for us then this promise applies to us.

Revelation 3:20 – “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.” The common understanding – Christ is standing at the door of every person’s heart. Each person has the opportunity to receive Him into their life and enjoy salvation which brings true fellowship with Jesus Christ. The correct understanding – Christ is addressing the church of Laodicea, through a messenger. This is not a verse directed at individual unsaved people that we may encounter in our evangelistic endeavors. It is to a church whose members were professing believers but were in fact spiritually dead. The church is called to repent and become zealous for God. (Read the entire excellent 8 page paper – Why Memorize – from Valley Bible Church, Lancaster, CA)


Rick Warren answers the question – Why Should You Memorize Scripture?

“Whoever looks intently into the perfect law … and continues in it — not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it — they will be blessed in what they do.” (James 1:25NIV)

If you’re serious about being spiritually strong and mature, the greatest habit you can develop is memorizing Scripture. In fact, the Bible says in James 1:25 that it’s one of four habits that leads to a blessed life: “Whoever looks intently into the perfect law … and continues in it — not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it — they will be blessed in what they do” (NIV).

  • Read your Bible. “Whoever looks intently …”
  • Review the Bible. “… continues in it …”
  • Remember the Bible. “… not forgetting what they have heard …”
  • Respond to the Bible. “ … but doing it …”

You don’t want to be a spiritual baby anymore. It’s time to grow up and live the blessed life you’re meant to live. Hiding God’s Word in your heart is an important way to start.

You may not think you have a good memory, but you remember what’s important to you. You remember the phone numbers and dates that you care about. I’ve heard people say they can’t memorize anything, but they can quote songs from the 1960s and rattle off the statistics of their favorite baseball players.

Memory is a skill you can learn. It’s a muscle you can strengthen. In fact, memorizing Scripture will cause your brain to have a stronger memory in other areas. I guarantee it. Study after study has shown this.

Why is it important to memorize Scripture?

  • You’ll always have God’s Word with you. When you’re tempted, you don’t have a Bible open or by your side. When you’re witnessing to someone who doesn’t know Jesus, is under stress, needs comfort, or is in a crisis, there’s usually not a Bible around. You need God’s Word in your mind so you can remember it and review it right when you need it.
  • You can meditate on Scripture wherever you go. You can’t review God’s Word unless you remember it. If you’ve memorized Scripture, you can think about it when you get into bed at night or as you drive to an appointment. You can think about the Bible because you’ve memorized it. That’s called meditation. The only promise of prosperity and success that God gives us in the Bible says that meditating on his Word is the key (Joshua 1:8).

Start memorizing Scripture today. Pick a verse a week. In a year, you’ll have memorized 52 verses. In two years, you’ll have memorized more than 100 verses.

Talk It Over

  • What changes do you need to make so that you are regularly reading and studying the Bible?
  • You already know the ways you learn and memorize best. What tools, tactics, or people can help you memorize Scripture?
  • How do you respond when God brings Scripture to mind in certain situations? How should you respond?

Courtesy of http://www.preceptaustin.org, a wonderful website for study of Scripture. See http://www.preceptaustin.org/Memorizing_His_Word

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The Name of Yahweh

yahweh-aThe Sacred Name of God is a prominent feature in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) and appears nearly 7,000 times throughout its pages (6,828 times in Codex Leningradensis). In the actual Hebrew text, the Divine Name of God is written as four letters, YHWH (known as the Tetragrammaton). These four consonants representing the Divine Name have been referred to as the ineffable or incommunicable Name of God. The reason for such descriptors is because the Divine Name has been deemed to be too holy and sacred to be uttered for concern that one might misuse The Name, even unintentionally. Thus, for centuries religious authorities have sought to protect The Name from being abused by not permitting the actual Name to be spoken but always deferring to other generalized honorific terms. Even to this day, some conservative religious authorities only refer to YHWH by saying “Ha-Shem” (i.e., “the Name”).

Reluctance to utter (or even write at times) the Divine Name is not just due to sentimentality. Some people believe that The Name must never be used in a profane (common) way, and in order to conserve its sacredness, they forbid mentioning it at all. Prohibiting The Name from being spoken or written was a safeguard intended to prevent it from being demeaned and becoming banal. And so, the use of abbreviations or circumlocutions to stand in place of the Divine Name has been implemented as a way to guard against careless mentioning of The Name.

But the strictest defense for not saying the Divine Name is drawn from several passages in Scripture that sternly warn against misusing the Name of God (Exod. 20:7; cp. Lev. 19:12; 24:16). Many early religious leaders developed a superstitious fear that even speaking The Name could result in possible misuse. Thus, the argument of most religious authorities was that if you never speak The Name, then you will never misuse it, and thus, you will never break the commandment. However, the misuse of The Name does not concern mispronunciation or a casual remark but rather disgraceful and/or contemptuous use. This latter category consists of using The Name in sworn oaths that one does not keep by failing to fulfill what they promised, or invoking The Name in circumstances that bring disdain upon God’s character or will, or connecting The Name with expletives or other defiling expressions that besmirch its sanctity.

Another issue involved in the tendency to police the use of the Name of God is that scholars dispute the proper pronunciation of The Name. With the ancient Hebrew language originally not containing any vowels, the true pronunciation of The Name became lost. Therefore, some authorities have advocated that since the true pronunciation of the Divine Name is uncertain, no one can know if they are mispronouncing The Name, and thus, it is both reverent and wise to not even attempt to vocalize it. This was considered a very serious matter in early Jewish tradition as they took the grave threat of execution (as stipulated in the Old Testament) to even entail mispronunciation of The Name (cf. Lev. 24:16).[1]

However, while the intention to keep the Name of God sacred is certainly honorable and well-meaning, the drawbacks and detriment involved in making the Divine Name too sacrosanct to even speak can be far reaching. As will be discussed below, the advantages and benefits of including the Divine Name in the Bible and in conversation are esteemed to far outweigh the negative stigma that many people have placed upon it being spoken and/or written.

The Problem With Suppression

Safeguards against misusing the Name have transferred over into most English translations by way of using generic terms (“Lord” or “God”) in place of the Sacred Name. In most English versions, an attempt is made to distinguish between The Name and less sacred Hebrew titles (e.g., Adonai, Elohim, El, etc.) by often setting The Name in small caps (“Lord” or “God”) and other titles in normal case (“Lord” or “God”). However, this poses definite obstacles for accurately perceiving when The Name is actually used in the English text. This is absolutely the case when Scripture is verbally communicated, such as in public reading or in conversation. In these circumstances, perceiving such distinctions through auditory recognition is utterly negated since the listener cannot distinguish between the use of The Name (“Lord”) and other titles also translated “Lord” because the two words are phonetically identical.

Using small caps to denote The Name may be perceived by the visual reader who can see the stylistic difference. But when reading Scripture, the possibility of glossing over the occurrence of The Name readily exists. Readers must constantly be evaluating the style of the text to notice the slight variation. In addition, and most unfortunately, the realization of the significance behind the style representing The Name (“Lord” or “God”) can be easily confused or forgotten, especially for new and/or infrequent readers. Thus, utilizing these types of substitutions for The Name can make reading the text not only more taxing and obscure, but indeed, less effective overall.

And thus, the unique Divine Name of God is suppressed in Scripture, concealed from the listening ear, and encrypted from the casual eye, making it far from easily discernible to all who desire to know and recognize when it appears in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament. This complication produces a hurdle in the text that will not only result in irreparable loss for listeners, but may even yield considerable loss of intelligibility for readers as well.

Why Restore The Name?

Restoring the Name of God in translations of the Hebrew text carries with it significant advantages and benefits to both the reader and listener of the Old Testament. Aside from the simple benefit of readily perceiving the places where it does occur, employing The Name in Scripture delivers additional advantages that warrant its use. Following are several examples of the inherent profit in restoring the Name of God in Bible translation:

1. The Divine Name is actually God’s personal Name and is explicitly used to refer to the one true God.

2. Use of the Divine Name can bring people into a deeper and more intimate relationship with God by knowing and using His personal Name.

3. Use of the Divine Name will generate associations in the text and in the mind of the reader/listener that might otherwise be easily glossed over through translation with general titles like “Lord” or “God.” Such connections are critical and necessary in order to grow in the awareness of when God’s personal Name is used in Scripture.

4. Use of the Divine Name will produce in the heart of the reader/listener an understanding of the nature and character of God that is absent through the use of general titles in place of His personal Name.

These reasons indicate that there are a number of important advantages in using the actual personal Name of God that is of inestimable value for the believer.

The Name of God – Jehovah or Yahweh

If the Name of God is going to be used in Bible translation, what must be decided is which form of The Name will be used. The most well-known English form of the Name of God is probably Jehovah. This form of The Name is widely recognized and used by the majority of readers as the Name of God. However, scholars have rightfully criticized this form, and in place of it, they have provided ample evidence that favors the form Yahweh as a more accurate rendering of the Hebrew.[2] While there is no definitive way of knowing how to precisely replicate the true Name of God, there is a general consensus among Hebrew experts that the form Yahweh is likely the closest representation of the Divine Name. Some slight variations have been proposed, but Yahweh has been accepted in the field as the most appropriate and most faithful to the ancient Hebrew.

The older and more well-known form Jehovah had its beginnings in the sixteenth century when it was introduced as an English pronunciation for the Name of God transliterated from the Hebrew. In William Tyndale’s Pentateuch (1530 ad),[3] the Name appeared one time in Exodus 6:3 in the Old English form Iehouah, before the development of the modern English letter “J.” After the modern pronunciation scheme emerged, Iehouah transformed into the more familiar form Jehovah. This transliterated form was introduced because in the ancient Hebrew manuscripts the vowel pointing of either the word Adonai (“Lord”) was superimposed on the Tetragrammaton—YHWH.[4] This hybrid construct was intentional by Jewish scribes in order to prompt the reader to substitute a different sounding pronunciation than the true Name of God. Thus, the pronunciation of Jehovah is simply the phonetical representation of this hybrid construct and not actually the Name itself. This hybrid construct was never intended to actually represent the true Name but was to be a signal so that whoever was reading the Hebrew Scriptures out loud would not pronounce the Divine Name but rather would supply an alternate pronunciation while reading.

Probably the most overlooked issue involved in using the phonetical pronunciation Jehovah is that the Hebrew language does not have the “J” phoneme at all (i.e., Hebrew has no letter or letter combination that sounds like the English letter “J”). This fact alone is more than enough for one to realize that the form Jehovah is an artificial rendering of The Name. Even considering the supplied vowel pointing from Adonai, the form Jehovah fails to be a faithful substitute and is acknowledged to be a foreign and invalid pronunciation.[5]

The Meaning of The Name

The Divine Name of God was used before the time of Moses (Gen. 4:26; 13:4; cf. Exod. 6:3), but the meaning and understanding of The Name was not revealed until God made it known to Moses.[6] To understand the meaning of the Divine Name is to understand the character of God revealed by that name, [7] and thus, to know someone by name means to have come into intimate and personal acquaintance with a person.[8] In other words, knowing the Divine Name does not just equate to simply knowing what it is or how to pronounce it—knowing the meaning of the Divine Name means knowing the God that is expressed by that Name.[9] This is true of God but is also true of many other figures in the Old Testament. A person’s name often represented certain characteristics or events associated with them.[10] Moreover, the Name is declared numerous times in the Hebrew Scriptures pointing to His specific acts or words.[11]

God revealed His character most fully first of all to Moses when He sent him to deliver His people from Pharaoh in Egypt. After God appeared to Moses in the burning bush on Mt. Horeb, God revealed himself to Moses by the designation “I AM WHO I AM” or “I WILL BE WHO I WILL BE.”[12] Moses was instructed to tell the children of Israel that “I AM” has sent me to you (Exod. 3:14). The next statement Moses was to proclaim to the children of Israel was that this God who calls himself “I AM” was actually Yahweh, the God of their fathers.

Exodus 3:15-16 (HCSB)
God also said to Moses, “Say this to the Israelites: Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is My name forever; this is how I am to be remembered in every generation. 16“Go and assemble the elders of Israel and say to them: Yahweh, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, has appeared to me and said: I have paid close attention to you and to what has been done to you in Egypt.

God did not tell Moses to reveal His Name to the children of Israel in order to simply proclaim and validate that it was, in fact, Yahweh who sent him. God revealed His Name in order for Moses to remind the children of Israel who their God was and that their God had been with them all the time and He had demonstrated His covenantal nature through His relationship with their ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Divine Name conveyed that God had not forsaken His people or neglected to hear their cries. The Name was intended to do much more than confirm a mere identity to the children of Israel.[13] The children of Israel did not need merely “to know facts about God’s character or that He was simply a covenant God present in their time of need, but to be reassured that this God would meet them in their time of need, proving true His character and promises.”[14]

When Pharaoh refused to free the children of Israel, God told Moses to tell the Israelites that He would deliver them, for His name is Yahweh (Exod. 6:6). The act of deliverance from Egypt was intended to convince the children of Israel that Yahweh is their God and for them to know His character through the signs and miracles that they saw Him perform. Such experiences were meant to prove Yahweh’s covenant faithfulness to the children of Israel and in order that they might know that “I am Yahweh your God.”

Deuteronomy 29:2-6 (HCSB)
Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, “You have seen with your own eyes everything the LORD did in Egypt to Pharaoh, to all his officials, and to his entire land. 3 You saw with your own eyes the great trials and those great signs and wonders. 4 Yet to this day the LORD has not given you a mind to understand, eyes to see, or ears to hear. 5 I led you 40 years in the wilderness; your clothes and the sandals on your feet did not wear out; 6 you did not eat bread or drink wine or beer– so that you might know that I am Yahweh your God.

While the Divine Name can be viewed as primarily denoting the covenantal nature of God with His people, it also carries a broader meaning that describes God as the One who “is,”[15] who “causes,”[16] who “acts,”[17] and who is “there.”[18] In order to better understand the Divine Name, the pattern of thinking that The Name has a single equivalent must be done away with because it is not possible to have a single, exact equivalent expression that embodies the entirety of the Name.  In other words, the Divine Name cannot be reproduced precisely in English with a single designation that can encompass everything it stands for. God is so vast and multifaceted, and His Name reflects this reality. Therefore, translators have tried to represent it in different ways in order to tap into at least part of who God really is and what His Name is meant to represent.

Several times in the Old Testament, God revealed aspects of what His Name signifies about Himself and how people have come to know the God that is expressed by that Name. Assuming that only one aspect of the Divine Name is sufficient to understand what the Name represents is to fail to understand the majesty of the God who is expressed by The Name. God has revealed His Name in a multiplicity of ways because God is not defined by only one or two finite descriptions. However, the Divine Name is best defined by that one simple yet so complex self-designation that God told Moses—I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE (Exod. 3:14). This description of Yahweh entails a vast identity that cannot be limited to a couple of finite ideas by which we can categorize God.

As mere mortals with such limited understanding, the Divine Name is like a deep well that we cannot see the bottom of. The descriptor I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE imports the idea of an adaptive, absolute, and all-powerful Being who consists of righteousness, love, and mercy, and yet displays His wrath and exacts judgment with perfect wisdom and holiness.

When God told the prophet Jeremiah that He would punish His people and exile them to a faraway land for their sins, God also declared that He would gather them again and restore them to the land that He gave their ancestors (Jer. 16:1-15; 25:1-14). Through this process, God would demonstrate His power and might and by that display of greatness, God’s people would come to know that the name of God is Yahweh.

Jeremiah 16:21 (HCSB)
Therefore, I am about to inform them, and this time I will make them know My power and My might; then they will know that My name is Yahweh.

God reveals Himself and proves Himself through what He says and how He acts. This is the way He made himself known to the Israelites when He delivered them from Egypt, and it is the way He made himself known to the descendants of Judah when they were exiled to Babylon and then brought back to the land of Canaan.

Yahweh is the true God, an all-powerful, eternal, intimate, and present God, who keeps covenant faithfulness with His people, making Himself known by everything that He has said and done. Even though Yahweh has revealed much of who He is to His people, there is still much more that yet remains unknown. As Job stated, “Yes, God is exalted beyond our knowledge; the number of His years cannot be counted” (Job 36:26 HCSB). It is hard to fathom how Yahweh is infinite, eternal, and perfect in all His ways, and yet He is so personal and intimate and cares for His creation.

When Moses was turning over his role of leading the people of Israel to Joshua, he gave one piece of advice that he had come to realize about their God, Yahweh. Through all the journeys from Egypt, through the desert wilderness, and to the border of the Promised Land, God had always been there leading His people, providing for His people, and being present with His people. Therefore, Moses told Joshua, “Do not be afraid or discouraged.”

Deuteronomy 31:8 (NJB)
Yahweh himself will lead you; he will be with you; he will not fail you or desert you. Have no fear, do not be alarmed.

 

In the Old Testament, Israel was designated to be Yahweh’s chosen people to declare to the world His glory and grace.[20] As Yahweh’s covenant people, Israel’s mission was to be a people whom He would raise above all the other nations for praise, fame, and glory “to Yahweh, as he has promised” (Deut. 26:16-19 NJB). Furthermore, it was to Israel that Moses said, “’From you Yahweh will make a people consecrated to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of Yahweh your God and follow his ways. The peoples of the world, seeing that you bear Yahweh’s name, will all be afraid of you” (Deut. 28:9-10 NJB).[21]

Bearing the Name

The Divine Name is a personal Name, and as it is applied to His covenant people, it symbolizes His ownership of and presence among them as their God. In ancient cultures, it was customary for vassals to bear the insignia of the king or magistrate whom they served. In a similar way, Isaiah describes how some will write on their hand “I belong to Yahweh” as a sign that they are devoted and bound to Him (Isa. 44:5 NJB). Writing on one’s hand was an act that symbolized intimacy and connection. Thus, bearing the Name of God in this way could be viewed as a form of branding indicating servitude but also as a sign of commitment and involvement.[19]

It was on account of carrying the name of Yahweh “on” them, like a badge or endorsement, that the other nations of the world would revere Israel and understand the power of their God. However, Israel did not always live up to the responsibility of bearing the name of Yahweh and honoring Him in the ways they should have. When the Israelites were defeated at Ai after conquering Jericho, it was due to the fact that some of them were unfaithful in obeying Yahweh. And Joshua, unaware about Israel’s unfaithfulness to follow the commandments of Yahweh, was overly distressed about Israel’s failure to defeat the men of Ai. He was concerned about the disdain and mockery that this failure would incur upon the “great name” of Yahweh, their God.

Joshua 7:6-9 (NJB)
Joshua then tore his clothes and prostrated himself before the ark of Yahweh till nightfall; the elders of Israel did the same, and all poured dust on their heads. 7 And Joshua said, “Alas, Lord Yahweh, why did you bother to bring this nation across the Jordan, if it was only to put us at the mercy of the Amorites and destroy us? If only we could have settled down on the other side of the Jordan! 8 Forgive me, Lord, but what can I say, now that Israel has turned tail on the enemy? 9 The Canaanites, all the inhabitants of the land, will hear of it; they will unite against us to wipe our name from the earth. And what will you do about your great Name then?”

At other times, though, Israel sought Yahweh their God and obeyed Him faithfully. When Asa became king of Israel, he removed all the pagan altars and shrines and chopped down all the pillars and idols and brought Israel back to seeking the Yahweh and obeying his instructions and commands. Then, when Zerah the Chushite came to attack Israel with an army twice as large, Asa brought the men of Israel out and called upon Yahweh and proclaimed that they were coming there to fight in His name and for His purposes.[22]

2 Chronicles 14:11 (NJB)
Asa then called on Yahweh his God and said, “Yahweh, numbers and strength make no difference to you when you give your help. Help us, Yahweh our God, for, relying on you, we are confronting this horde in your name. Yahweh, you are our God. Human strength cannot prevail against you!”

Yahweh had placed His name upon His people so that wherever they went, they would bear His name before all the nations, making Him known and representing Him. Through this act, though, Yahweh’s name and reputation were also subjected to the behavior of the people who bore the brand of His Name. The name of Yahweh became known throughout the land as the God of Israel and Yahweh did great things among His people for his namesake, but to their own shame and demise in bearing the name of Yahweh, Israel did a deplorable job of honoring Him to the point that even when they went into exile in Babylon the other nations became confused about the character of Yahweh. The prophet Ezekiel described Israel’s failure as reflecting poorly on Yahweh with the result that His name became desecrated.

Ezekiel 36:16-21 (NJB)
The word of Yahweh was addressed to me as follows, 17 “Son of man, the members of the House of Israel used to live in their own territory, but they defiled it by their conduct and actions; to me their conduct was as unclean as a woman’s menstruation. 18 I then vented my fury on them because of the blood they shed in the country and the foul idols with which they defiled it. 19 I scattered them among the nations and they were dispersed throughout the countries. I sentenced them as their conduct and actions deserved. 20 They have profaned my holy name among the nations where they have gone, so that people say of them, “These are the people of Yahweh; they have been exiled from his land.” 21 But I have been concerned about my holy name, which the House of Israel has profaned among the nations where they have gone.

In Micah’s prophecy about the last days when God’s kingdom will be established and Zion will be restored, nations will no longer train for war and there will be peace and security according to Yahweh’s rule. This is what Yahweh has promised (Mic. 4:1-4). And in those days, Micah proclaims that “though all the peoples each walk in the name of their gods, we will walk in the name of Yahweh our God forever and ever” (Mic. 4:5 HCSB).

Bearing the name of Yahweh is not only an Old Testament notion; it also appears in the New Testament as well. But in the New Testament, it is Jesus the Messiah who comes in the name of Yahweh (cp. Matt. 21:9; 23:39; Mark 11:9; Luke 13:35; 19:38; John 12:13). When Jesus is making his triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the people spread their robes and tree branches on the road and began shouting “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD [Yahweh]” (cf. Psa. 118:26). “It is in the person of Jesus that the function of the Name of Yahweh as a form of the divine self-manifestation finds its fulfillment.”[23] As the active vice-regent for God on earth, Jesus was Yahweh’s earthly representative who revealed His heart and character to the world. Thus, bearing the name of the Messiah is inextricably linked to bearing the name of Yahweh. One cannot bear the name of the Messiah without also bearing the name of the God who sent him. By being spiritually united together as God’s people, believers today collectively bear God’s Name through their connection with His chosen Messiah.

Bearing the Divine Name, by being a follower of the Messiah whom God sent, carries with it an expected duty to represent God and the Messiah as God’s people. People will judge the character and nature of God by seeing how His people behave. Personal conduct has always been a criterion used to evaluate the character of the one whom someone serves. Believers are to accurately reflect the character of God and bring honor to His Name through their actions and attitudes.

Misconduct on the part of God’s people will deliver a bad testimony on behalf of God and will mar His Name. James speaks against rich people who oppress and drag believers into court and who “blaspheme the honorable name by which you were called [i.e., that you bear]” (Jas. 2:7 ESV).[24] Also, in his letter to Titus, Paul exhorted him to “show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us” (Tit. 2:7-8 ESV). Paul’s emphasis was for Titus to adopt a lifestyle commensurate with godly conduct and speech so that there would not be opportunity for the Name of God or His Messiah to be slandered by opponents. Paul’s message to Titus was that bearing the Name of God carries with it an inherent responsibility to properly represent the One to whom you have been called and now belong. Being called by (or bearing) an honorable name requires an honorable response in return. God’s people are charged with protecting and upholding the dignity of that Name by not affording any cause for it to be defamed or spoken evil of.

Revelation 3:12 (HCSB)
The victor: I will make him a pillar in the sanctuary of My God, and he will never go out again. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God– the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God– and My new name.

Conclusion

As the Psalmist David proclaimed, “Yahweh, our Lord, how magnificent is Your name throughout the earth! You have covered the heavens with Your majesty” (Ps. 8:1 HCSB). The Divine Name of God is certainly magnificent and it signifies a God who is true and faithful in all that He is and does.

The Divine Name “points to God’s relationship to Israel in both His saving acts and His retributive acts, manifesting His phenomenological effectiveness in Israel’s history. What God says, He will do. His Name promises that. And He will act on behalf of His people.”[25] This means that God has revealed Himself through the miraculous acts of deliverance that He performed among His chosen people, Israel. Those acts have since been a source of testimony about who God is, and more specifically, who and what the Divine Name expresses.

The Exodus narrative became a hallmark message throughout later writings of the Old Testament, especially of the prophets who used the record to remind God’s people who Yahweh was and who they were as His people. Furthermore, the New Testament points to the Exodus account as a “type” of how God has again called out a people from among the earth through the salvation (deliverance) that is offered in Jesus the Messiah.[26]

The Divine Name embodies the true substance of God’s character and virtue in all its manifold expressions and infinite diversity. God will be whatever God wills to be. It is the God expressed by the name Yahweh who we can come to know and who is worthy of all praise and worship. Glory be to Him both now and forevermore.

Psalm 72:17-18 (NJB)
May his name be blessed for ever, and endure in the sight of the sun. In him shall be blessed every race in the world, and all nations call him blessed. 18 Blessed be Yahweh, the God of Israel, who alone works wonders;

 

Endnotes:

[1] Samuel Cohon, S., “The Name of God, A Study in Rabbinic Theology,” HUCA 23 (1951): 579-604. Daniel I. Block, “Bearing the Name of the Lord with Honor,” BSac 168 (2011): 20-31.

[2] For an overview of the Semitic progression for pronouncing the lettering of the Tetragrammaton, see Martin Rösel, “The Reading and Translation of the Divine Name in the Masoretic Tradition and the Greek Pentateuch,” JSOT 31 (2007): 411-28. For an older study of the tetragrammaton see Leroy Waterman, “Method in the Study of the Tetragrammaton,” AJSL 43 (1926): 1-7.

[3] Francis B. Denio, “On the Use of the Word Jehovah in Translating the Old Testament,” JBL 46 (1927): 149-49.

[4] Rösel, “The Reading and Translation,” 411-28.

[5] While the more accurate pronunciation of the Hebrew letter yod (י) is a “Y” sound rather than a “J”, people have become very accustomed to reading many Hebrew proper nouns like Jacob, Joshua, Joab, Jehoshaphat, Jerusalem, Judah, Jubal, and many others with the “J” phoneme. But since the Name of God has not been consistently translated in English versions, it is not as well known among English readers. Therefore, this lack of familiarity with it provides the opportunity for a more accurate pronunciation to be introduced and utilized without the need for extensive recourse in re-learning the pronunciation of the Divine Name.

[6] “In the character which this name declares, that is, as the God whose love would be in virtue of certain qualities, even His elect, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, had not as yet known Him.” Andrew Jukes, The Names of God in Holy Scripture (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1967), 49-50.

[7] Charles R. Gianotti, “The Meaning of the Divine Name YHWH,” BSac 142 (1985): 38-51.

[8] J. Alec Motyer, The Revelation of the Divine Name (Leicester: Theological Students Fellowship, 1959), 15-16.

[9] “It is not a question of whence this name [YHWH] comes and what its linguistic stem is which moves mankind, not whether it is Hebrew, Sinaitic, or Egyptian, not whether Moses or his chronicler first discovered the sense of the sounds, not the question of whether the interpretation fits the verbal explanation; the important question is the meaning eternally fixed in this name, namely the meaning established by the deeds of the name-bearer.” Joseph Kalir, “The Problem of Moses’ Name and the Divine Name,” RelEd 71 (1976): 377-91.

[10] Gen. 25:26 (ESV) “Afterward his brother came out with his hand holding Esau’s heel, so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.” Gen. 29:32 (ESV) “And Leah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Reuben, for she said, ‘Because the LORD has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me.’” Gen. 30:23-24 (ESV) “She [Rachel] conceived and bore a son and said, ‘God has taken away my reproach.’ And she called his name Joseph, saying, “May the LORD add to me another son!’” Gen. 32:28 (ESV) “Then he [Yahweh] said, ‘Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with men, and have prevailed.’”

[11] The Old Testament is filled with Yahweh’s self-disclosure of his personal Name. For example, the phrases “I am Yahweh…” (e.g., Gen. 28:13; Exod. 6:2, 29; 7:5, 17; Lev. 18:5-6, 21; 19:13, 16, 28, 30, 32, 37; 22:2-3, 8, 30-31, 33; 26:2, 45; 31:12); “I am Yahweh who…” (e.g., Exod. 6:7; Lev. 18:2, 4, 30; 19:3-4, 10, 25, 31, 34; 23:22, 43; 25:55; Num. 10:10; 15:4); and “For because I am Yahweh …” (e.g., Exod. 31:13; Lev. 11:44; 21:15, 23; 24:22; 25:17; 26:1, 44). Each of these phrases is an explicit declaration by Yahweh of His identity, His character and conduct, and the justification for everything He is and everything He does.

[12] The Hebrew expression EHYEH-ASHER-EHYEH (אֶֽהְיֶ֖ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר אֶֽהְיֶ֑ה) in Exodus 3:14 is commonly translated by the phrase “I Am That [Who] I Am,” but Hebrew scholars readily concede that this is not the only possible (and perhaps the most accurate) translation. Much has been learned about the ancient Hebrew language in recent decades and Hebrew scholars debate about the best way to bring this complex Hebrew phrase into English. Some have suggested “I Am Who I Am,” “I Am Who I Shall Be,” “I Shall Be Who I Am,” and “I Shall Be Who I Shall Be” [Gerardo Sachs, “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh,” JBQ 38 (2010): 244-46]. Furthermore, a recent proposal has advocated for a cohortative construction: “I Would Be Who I Would Be” to elicit the idea of a direction of the will to an action [Randall J. Pannell, “I Would Be Who I Would Be! A Proposal for Reading Exodus 3:11-14,” BBR 16 (2006): 351-53]. Embedded in this designation is all the complexity and versatility of God Himself and we do not have sufficient means to express that reality in one single, short phrase. Indeed, the various translation proposed all capture an aspect of what EHYEH-ASHER-EHYEH means and they lend to the understanding that all that Yahweh is cannot be confined into one simple statement in English.

[13] As Robert Davidson explains, the Name of God that Moses was instructed to bring before the children of Israel was the Name that embodied the reality that “I am the God who is and who will be active in whatever situations you are called to face.” Robert Davidson, The Old Testament (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1964), 27.

[14] Gianotti, “The Meaning,” 46.

[15] Robert Lockyer describes Yahweh as revealing “God as the Being who is absolutely self-existent, and who in Himself, possesses essential life and permanent existence.” Robert Lockyer, All the Divine Names and Titles in the Bible (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975), 18.

[16] David Freedman sees the name Yahweh as essentially meaning, “I cause to be what comes into existence,” or as Julian Obermann advocates, “I sustain—I am He who sustains.” David N. Freedman, “The Name of the God of Moses,” JBL 79 (1960): 151-56. Julian Obermann, “The Divine Name YHWH in Light of Recent Discoveries,” JBL 68 (1949): 301-23.

[17] Sigmund Mowinckel understands the name of Yahweh to entail the way that God reveals himself through his actions in history. Yahweh expresses himself in active being as the “God who acts.” Sigmund Mowinckel, “The Name of the God of Moses,” HUCA 32 (1961): 121-33.

[18] J. Alec Motyer concludes that “the heart of the Mosaic revelation of Yahweh was that He was going to redeem His people.” Yahweh is with his people and he helps his people. He is always there. Motyer, Divine Name, 24.

[19] Jeremiah 15:16 speaks of the prophet Jeremiah being “called by Your name, Yahweh God of Hosts” (HCSB) in the context of being under the protection and care of Yahweh, God of Armies.

[20] God’s messengers (e.g., angels), who are His agents and representatives, are also described as bearing the name of Yahweh, cf. Exodus 23:20-21 (HCSB): “I am going to send an angel before you to protect you on the way and bring you to the place I have prepared. 21Be attentive to him and listen to his voice. Do not defy him, because he will not forgive your acts of rebellion, for My name is in him.”

[21] Block, “Bearing the Name,” 20-31.

[22] “Blessed in the name of Yahweh is he who is coming! We bless you from the house of Yahweh.” (Ps. 118:26 NJB)

[23] Walter Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament (trans. J. A. Barker; vol. 2; Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1967), 45.

[24] A custom may underlie the expression “to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 2:38; 10:48), because after baptism new believers were recognized as bearers of the Name. James P. Martin, James (WBC: Word, 1988), 67.

[25] Gianotti, “The Meaning,” 48.

[26] For an overview of the Exodus in the Old and New Testament, see Robin E. Nixon, The Exodus in the New Testament (London: Tyndale Press, 1963).

 

References

Block, Daniel I. “Bearing the Name of the Lord with Honor.” Bibliotheca Sacra 168 (2011): 20-31.

Cohon, Samuel, S. “The Name of God, A Study in Rabbinic Theology.” Hebrew Union College Annual 23 (1951): 579-604.

Davidson, Robert. The Old Testament. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott, 1964.

Denio, Francis B. “On the Use of the Word Jehovah in Translating the Old Testament.” Journal of Biblical Literature 46 (1927): 146-49.

Eichrodt, Walter. Theology of the Old Testament. Translated by J. A. Barker.  Vol. 2. Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1967.

Freedman, David N. “The Name of the God of Moses.” Journal of Biblical Literature 79 (1960): 151-56.

Gianotti, Charles R. “The Meaning of the Divine Name YHWH.” Bibliotheca Sacra 142 (1985): 38-51.

Jukes, Andrew. The Names of God in Holy Scripture. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1967.

Kalir, Joseph. “The Problem of Moses’ Name and the Divine Name.” Religious Education 71 (1976): 377-91.

Lockyer, Robert. All the Divine Names and Titles in the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1975.

Martin, James P. James. Word Biblical Commentary. Word, 1988.

Motyer, J. Alec. The Revelation of the Divine Name. Leicester: Theological Students Fellowship, 1959.

Mowinckel, Sigmund. “The Name of the God of Moses.” Hebrew Union College Annual 32 (1961): 121-33.

Nixon, Robin E. The Exodus in the New Testament. London: Tyndale Press, 1963.

Obermann, Julian. “The Divine Name YHWH in Light of Recent Discoveries.” Journal of Biblical Literature 68 (1949): 301-23.

Pannell, Randall J. “I Would Be Who I Would Be! A Proposal for Reading Exodus 3:11-14.” Bulletin for Biblical Research 16 (2006): 351-53.

Rösel, Martin. “The Reading and Translation of the Divine Name in the Masoretic Tradition and the Greek Pentateuch.” Journal for Study of the Old Testament 31 (2007): 411-28.

Sachs, Gerardo. “Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh.” Jewish Bible Quarterly 38 (2010): 244-46.

Waterman, Leroy. “Method in the Study of the Tetragrammaton.” American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures 43 (1926): 1-7.

This article is courtesy of the truth or tradition website authored by John Schoenheit/

Courtesy of http://www.truthortradition.com/articles/yhwh-the-name-of-god

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