The Ears: The Second Gateway to the Heart: Part 4: Have We Lost Our Hearing of the Voice of God?

The Importance of Spiritual Leaders

So often spiritual leaders fall away because they have lost their hearing and alertness to the voice of God. They are not listening. They have tuned God out. His words are falling to the ground, as they cannot take residence in His people’s hearts. It is written that in the times of Eli, the high priest, “the word of the Lord was rare in those days” (1 Samuel 3:1). God’s voice is rare today for the same reason it was rare then. It’s not because He isn’t speaking. It is rare because no one is listening.

Why is this so important? History is replete with this lesson that one leader can lead the heart astray; one leader can turn the heart to destruction or to life; one leader can move the heart into an indifferent and callous hardness against God and deafness to His words; one leader can lead the heart to the altar of an idol, or one leader can lead the heart to the feet of Jesus where the captive and broken of heart are set free. What leader have you opened the door of your heart to by lending them your ear?

God’s stern judgment against the prophet and the priest was due to their ultimate failure to lead the hearts of God’s people to the heart of God revealed in His words. The beauty of a heart that belongs to God and in which His glory is manifested is unparalleled in human history. A leader can bring the beauty and glory of God or the ugliness of a counterfeit god into the heart and both ride into the heart by the words the leader speaks and the example the leader provides. The leader brings either light or darkness into the hearts of men, women and children and the spiritual health of the heart either flourishes brilliantly or suffers miserably because of it. The leader can incite the heart to action in either the service of God or the rebellion against God. The heart becomes and reflects the image of its leader. What the heart beholds, listens too, and follows the heart becomes. This is why Jesus said in the gospel of Mark “be careful what you listen to” which in essence is be careful who you listen to, for the life and health of your heart depends on it. A. W. Tozer, in God Tells the Man Who Cares says, “The history of Israel and Judah points up a truth clearly taught by all history that the masses are or soon will be what their leaders are.”[i]

The devil is one of the most efficient leaders of all time. Leadership was birthed in his being since the day he was created. He knows how to capture the heart; he knows how to build an army of followers. He knows what to speak to captivate the ear. He knows how to fascinate, how to motivate, and how to birth desire in the depths of the heart. He convinced one third of God’s created angels to turn their backs on God and their heavenly responsibilities and follow him to war against their Creator. In the book of Revelation, the devil is bound and shut up in the bottomless pit for a thousand years while Christ rules perfectly on the earth with peace, justice, righteousness and love. The people living on the earth have never seen anything like it. When these glorious thousand years are ended, the devil is released from his prison and immediately begins to deceive the nations from the four corners of the earth to follow him in battle against God. His leadership skills are so effective that he quickly recruits an army so great that “their number is like the sand of the sea” (Revelation 20:8, ESV). He leads his newly converted follows into a frenzy as they march over the broad plain of the earth and surround the camp of the saints and the beloved city of Jerusalem. They are absolutely blind and deceived by their leader as they walk into their own destruction, from which there will be no escape.

The devil is wise beyond human comprehension in the ways of leadership. He uses his leadership skills to entangle the human heart in his snare. He is a cruel puppet master that through the eyes and ears enslaves the heart, pulling strings to get people to do his bidding. The devil has always had human leaders in every sphere of influence that carry out his bidding without their even realizing who they work for.

But no one who has ever lived on the earth, strode through hell, or graced the halls of heaven is a greater leader of men and women than Jesus Christ. No one has more power to change and transform the heart. Jesus came to lead hearts into glorious freedom by breaking the chains of sin, disease, bondage, and oppression and bring them into rich fellowship and intimacy with God. He came to rebuild the ruins, to restore what was devastated, and bring the heart back to a vibrant new life where it reflects the splendor of Almighty God. Out of the ashes of hurt, rejection, addiction, and oppression, the Lord heals, cleanses, and transforms the heart, bringing it into the glorious liberty of a child of God. What Jesus Christ can do for the heart is nothing short of miraculous, and there is no heart, regardless of its condition, that He cannot touch and change.

Look in Mark 5 at the man living among the tombs. No one could help him; no one could subdue him. He lived among the dead, and the beast within roared in torment and agony. He would cry out in anguish and desperation every night and day from the tombs, cutting himself with stones, and the world was helpless to do anything for this man’s twisted and chaotic heart. Jesus spoke eight words and completely healed him. His heart was touched by the Prince of Peace and became calm, peaceful, and full of joy. His heart was released from darkness, and light flooded the depths of his soul. This was a miraculous transformation of a chaotic heart into a heart full of love for Jesus. The devil’s chains were shattered and the prison door kicked wide open so that the man could once again breathe free. He tuned his ear to just eight words from the Lord, and his heart was changed forever.

Nicky Cruz, a poor child from Puerto Rico who was raised in the occult and became a violent gang leader on the streets of New York, tells the story of the effect Jesus Christ had on his bitter, angry and violent heart in his book One Holy Fire:

In my heart I still see myself as a helpless and needy nineteen-year-old boy, kneeling before the altar, weeping in repentance and asking God to come into my heart and be my Savior. Like a baby longing for its mother’s milk, I drank deeply of God’s love and forgiveness. I could almost feel his gentle arms wrapping themselves around my cold body, comforting, warming, snuggling. For the first time in my life I felt loved … When I speak, I often search my vocabulary for ways to express this supernatural sensation, the moment when Jesus stepped in and changed my life, but I’ve yet to find a way to do it justice … I tell people that I felt as if I were on an operating table, cold, angry and confused, and Jesus was the surgeon standing over me. My heart was broken. He gently reached over and closed my eyes, then he opened my chest and reached deep inside me and pulled my heart out. He held it in his hands, a heart filled with hatred and anger and bitterness that consumed me—the brokenness of my past and the curse that was destroying my life and soul. Then Jesus slowly took my heart, brought it to his lips and kissed it. He caressed it and mended the wounds. Then he placed it back in my chest and closed me up. I knew in an instant I was better, that my heart was no longer broken. At that moment I knew I was a new creation. I had a new heart—a heart of love and compassion and repentance. All the feelings of hate and resentment were gone. My sins were forgiven. At long last I was free … I look to Jesus for help and guidance in everything I do, and he has never failed me. He has always been there when I needed him.[ii]

What a Savior! What a Healer! What a Leader of restoration to the human heart! Jesus Christ is the flawless model of leadership and the head and leader of the Body of Christ, and the church is in desperate need of leaders who imitate the heart of Jesus. O how these leaders must take heart to the words of God: “This is my beloved Son, hear him!” (Mark 9:7).

The Fall of Leaders

The spiritual anemia in the hearts of so many Christians can be traced directly to poor leadership in the modern church. Our leaders have cared more about ambition, money, fame, and earthly glory than about the hearts of their flocks. Contemporary Christian leadership has failed miserably, which has caused the hearts of believers to become weak and malnourished.

Hearts are broken, crushed, and hurting in every pew around the world, as we all desperately need a leader in the mold of Jesus Christ who teaches the words of God, who comforts people in times of sorrow, who turns hearts from the darkness and leads them into the light. Sadly, the leaders of the church—like the prophets, priests and Pharisees—have not watched over and taken care of their own hearts. They have been careless with their own eyes, ears, and thoughts, which has caused evil to develop a stronghold in their hearts and the hearts of their people. This has caused many pastors to simply quit the ministry and fall away from their calling.

David Ravenhill, in Surviving the Anointing: Learning to Effectively Experience and Walk in God’s Power, shares some sobering statistics on ministry leadership:

God’s army of soldiers are “dying” at a faster rate than ever before. According to John Maxwell, only one out of every ten people entering the ministry today will still be in it at the age of 65. That’s a 90 percent dropout rate. Dr. James Dobson estimates that there are some 1,500 ministers a month leaving the ministry. If the body of Christ continues to hemorrhage at this rate, we’ll soon be the laughingstock of the world, not to mention the evil hordes of darkness … The devil’s strategy is both old and reliable: “Strike the shepherd and scatter the flock.”[iii]

No one knew better than our Savior the importance of a keen ear spiritually alive to the voice of God. Without it, a pastor can never truly lead with the heart of Jesus Christ:

“For the heart of this people has become dull, with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes, otherwise they would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them. But blessed are your eyes for they see; and your ears because they hear.” (Matthew 13:15–16, NASB)

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man, who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell-and great was it fall.” (Matthew 7:24–27, NASB)

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27, NASB)

“Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” (Luke 11:28, NIV)

There has been a great fall of leaders from pulpits across our land because the ears of pastors and teachers have become dull and scarcely hear the Word of the Lord. The noise of the world has crowded the voice of the Lord from their hearts, so they do not act on His instructions. The storms of life have slammed their ministries, and they have crumbled like sand and collapsed because they were not built upon the Rock, Jesus Christ. All their God-given abilities, all their potential to do the works of God, fall by the wayside and are swept away by floods of sin, pride, and arrogance. It’s one of the great tragedies in church history that so many of our spiritual leaders have missed the magnificent blessing of hearing the Word of God and obeying it.

The destruction of a leader’s calling and ministry almost always begins with the eyes and the ears. Pastoral burnout is often a direct consequence of having undisciplined eyes and straying ears. Their failure in turn causes the hearts of God’s children to turn away from Him. I can only imagine how deeply this must grieve God’s heart. He so wants to show Himself strong on behalf of His children (2 Chronicles 16:9)! He yearns to be their first love and their only God, that their hearts would be completely devoted to Him. I can feel God’s heart crying out, “My children, my children! Why have you forsaken my embrace and thrust me from your presence? Why am I not good enough for you? Why am I not everything you need? Why won’t you hear me? Why do you forget me days without number? Why do you love something more than me?”

Listen to His heart’s cry to Israel:

Listen, O heavens! Pay attention, earth! This is what the Lord says: “The children I have raised and cared for have rebelled against me. Even an ox knows its owner, and a donkey recognizes its master’s care—but Israel does not know its master. My people do not recognize my care for them … They have despised the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him. Why do you continue to invite punishment? Must you rebel forever? Your head is injured, and your heart is sick.” (Isaiah 1:2–5, NLT)

The children of Israel, the chosen people, amazingly did not even know God! They never experienced His goodness in their hearts. Despite all the magnificent and wondrous things He did time and time again to demonstrate His love and mercy, they cast God aside like a dirty rag. They were blind and did not recognize how much God cared for them. His children turned their backs on God, covered their ears, and ran in the other direction. Much of the Old Testament is the story of the rebel heart of God’s children that turned against their Father God because they failed to open up their ears to His words. God was crying desperately to their ears and hearts, “Must you rebel forever! Are you ever going to grow up and see my heart! Don’t you realize how much of a special treasure you are to me? Don’t you know how much I long for you? Don’t you understand that I want to be joined with you at the heart and experience the deepest bond of love with you?”

Listen to Jesus as He wailed from the depths of His heart and burst into tears over Jerusalem and its children:

And as he came still nearer to the city, he caught sight of it and wept over it, saying, “Ah, if you only knew, even at this eleventh hour, on what your peace depends—but you cannot see it. The time is coming when your enemies will encircle you with ramparts, surrounding you and hemming you in on every side. And they will hurl you and all your children to the ground—yes, they will not leave you one stone standing upon another—all because you did not know when God Himself was visiting you!” (Luke 19:41–44, PHILLIPS)

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:36–38, NIV)

Christ heart was filled with sorrow over the great potential of Jerusalem’s people that had gone unfulfilled because their eyes did not see and their ears did not hear Him. He longed to gather His children under His protective wings and give them help and support in every season of life, but they refused and thrust Him away.

Forty years later, the Roman armies ran Jerusalem into the ground and caused the people to be a house of desolation, all because they stubbornly refused to believe that God would have conquered their every foe, lifted their every burden, and healed their every wound. They had stoned and killed those who spoke the words of God because they did not want to hear what God had to say. Jesus wept over this great tragedy of Jerusalem, that its inhabitants throughout history had not recognized God’s many visitations and pleas to return to Him. The ultimate slap to God’s face was soon to unfold in the rejection and murder of His only begotten Son, the promised Messiah.

Is Jesus Crying Over the Condition of Your Heart?

Is Jesus crying over you this day? Is He heartbroken over the condition of your heart? Is He crying out to you, ‘’Must your heart rebel against me forever? I gave my life for you. You have so much potential, so much promise, so much power because of my sacrifice! Why are you wasting it? Why are you not walking in my victory, letting me live through you? Why are you letting your heart become entangled in the trivial matters of this world that have no eternal value?”

Jesus weeps over the wasted potential of His church and what could have been. He weeps over the many hardened hearts. He weeps over those who have been deceived. He weeps over those who are enslaved to sin. He weeps over the hearts that have waxed cold and forgotten their first love. He weeps over those who have closed their ears to His voice because they are offended at His words.

To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it. (Jeremiah 6:10, NIV)

Yet it is still possible for us to know and experience the beauty and perfection of Jesus Christ in our hearts. He longs to lead us into the blessings of His victory and carry us to spiritual frontiers we haven’t imagined possible. Indeed, He is calling us to the greatest adventure on planet Earth, and that is to love like Him, to have mercy and compassion like Him, to touch lives as He did, to pray like Him, and to heal many as He did.

Be Still and Listen

One encounter with the voice of God can change your life forever. Moses, Samuel, Paul, and many others can attest to this truth. Nothing in the heavens or the earth compares to the voice of the Lord:

“Whenever this happens, my heart stops—I’m stunned, I can’t catch my breath. Listen to it! Listen to his thunder, the rolling, rumbling thunder of his voice. He lets loose his lightnings from horizon to horizon, lighting up the earth from pole to pole. In their wake, the thunder echoes his voice, powerful and majestic. He lets out all the stops, he holds nothing back. No one can mistake that voice—His word thundering so wondrously, his mighty acts staggering our understanding.” (Job 37:1–5, MSG)

“Pay attention heavens and I will speak; listen, earth to the words of my mouth. Let my teaching fall like the rain and my words settle like the dew, like gentle rain on new grass and showers on tender plants.” (Deuteronomy 32:1–4, HCSB)

God’s voice sounds throughout the earth with great majesty, power, and wonder. Nothing can silence it. Nothing can overpower it. Nothing can stop it.

From the beginning, when God spoke to the darkness and said, “Let there be light,” His voice thundered like a mighty storm and, at other times, softly like the gentle rain. Can you imagine being awakened each morning by the tender, gracious, and loving voice of the Creator of all things? It’s so much better than an alarm clock, a Starbucks coffee, or the morning newspaper! Nothing is more satisfying to the heart than to hear from God as a new day dawns. Can you imagine having your ears so attuned to God that every day you hear His voice encouraging and helping you to be your best in your service for His kingdom? We are so accustomed to spiritual deafness that such an idea seems far-fetched and beyond our reach, but God wants you to know His voice like a loving Father and faithful friend. Pray that God awakens your ear to His voice, for it is critical to the condition and health of your heart. If your ears are not awakened, your heart will become callous, indifferent, and of little use to our Lord.

Across the world the church needs an awakening to the voice of the Lord. Psalm 46:10 declares, “Be still and know that I am God.” We must once again develop this stillness of the heart that David knew. We cannot be so agitated, anxious, and stressed by the noise and commotion of the world that we miss the stillness and quiet beauty of His voice. We must be still to know the greatness of our God and experience His voice. For it is in these quiet times with God that renewal, confidence, peace, joy, and healing flood into the heart like a river and sweep away all the fears, doubts, and worries of this world.

Be still and know that He is God. Still your heart and hear His voice! Quiet your heart and experience His presence! Let your heart come home to Him. We must have a modern day prayer closet where we can spend time alone with God and still our hearts. Make time to meet Him there. This is not an option for the modern Christian! Find a place to spend quiet time with God daily and praise, worship and pour your heart out to Him in prayer. I converted a space in my basement to a prayer room where I can pour out my heart out to Him and listen for His voice.

Our culture is addicted to noise with our televisions, computers, radios, and iPods blaring nonstop. Our hearts do not know what to do with silence. Yet a quiet, reflective time with God where we listen to Him and meditate upon His Word is the greatest medicine and healing balm available to our hearts. Jesus would get up before sunrise to spend hours of quiet time with His Father. He showed us by example how important it is to still our hearts in the presence of God with an attitude of thankfulness and praise so that we can hear what He is saying to us.

Make time to find true rest in the embrace of God. This is how you begin to cultivate eyes that see and ears that hear. This is a time of full sharing where we meet God in the laughter, tears and pressures of life and bear our entire heart to Him. In the solitude of His presence, hold nothing back. Learn how to listen for His guidance, comfort, and instruction. If you can find time to spend with a favorite sports team or television show, surely you can make time for our awesome God. I challenge you to spend quiet time with Him daily and watch for the transformation that occurs in your heart and life. Your spiritual eyes and ears will become keenly tuned to the heart of God the more time you spend with Him.

God is waiting for you to know Him, to experience Him, and to love Him. But to do this, you must spend uninterrupted time with Him. He wants to spend time with you more than you could ever imagine. He is waiting and looking, like the father of the prodigal son, for your heart to come home to Him. If you are truly interested in guarding your heart, then nothing is more important than giving God some exclusive alone time. Your heart will never be healthy without it. You will not hear His voice without it. You will not grow spiritually without it.

Accept God’s invitation to come to Him and fellowship with Him in the deepest bonds of intimacy and love. Awaken each morning to His loving voice and His tender touch. Make God your greatest desire each day, and He will strengthen your heart into a mighty fortress for Him, untouched by the noise of this world.

[i] A. W. Tozer, God Tells the Man Who Cares (Camp Hill: Wingspread Publishers, 1993).

[ii] Nicky Cruz, Holy Fire: Let the Spirit Ignite Your Soul, (Colorado Springs: Waterbrook Press, 2003), 142.

[iii] David Ravenhill, Surviving the Anointing: Learning to Effectively Experience and Walk in God’s Power (Shippensburg: Destiny Image Publishers, 2007), 14, 15.

 

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Seven Spiritual Battlefields

By Dan Gallagher

Most Christians are familiar with the phrase “the spiritual battle,” a term used to describe the war raging between the forces of good and evil. It is the ageless war between light and darkness, between God and His archenemy, the Devil. Unfortunately, all humankind—every man, woman, and child who has ever lived—is in the middle of the war, caught between the two great opposing armies. The war that started in the heavens above has spilled over the borders of the spirit realm into the Earth.

Wars between nations are generally fought for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it’s about acquiring new lands, seizing goods and riches, or simply increasing political power. In the case of the spiritual battle, the objective sought by both sides is the fertile soil of the minds and hearts of humankind. God’s ultimate plan has always been to have a kingdom filled with those who love Him and want a real relationship with Him, which He aims to accomplish through love and giving people the freedom to make their own choices. The Devil, on the other hand, is doing all he can to thwart God through coercion, manipulation, lies, and deceit. Although Satan desires to have followers who will openly and brazenly follow him, he will settle for much less. In his twisted thinking, he will accept the crumbs of people simply rejecting God as a victory for him.

As time marches on, Satan’s forces continue to promote immorality, rebellion, greed, and all manner of sinfulness, while the forces of Righteousness promote order, respect, love, and holiness. This makes the boundary line between the two opposing sides very clear. In this war, there is no safety afforded to those who prefer to sit on the proverbial fence—because as someone once said, “The Devil owns the fence.” Jesus made this crystal clear when he told his followers that whoever is not with him is against him, and whoever does not gather with him scatters (Matt. 12:30). In order for us, the children of God, to navigate the minefields of this war surrounding us, we need to be clear on the battlefields on which this war is being fought.

Strategies change but the battlefields remain the same

Over time, the various moves and strategies of the Evil One has changed, but the war continues to be fought on the same battlefields. When we step back from the frontlines of war, we can see the battles being waged on seven major battlefields.

1. Media & Communication
2. Arts & Entertainment
3. Education
4. Business & Economy
5. Government
6. Religion
7. Family

Many Christians have given little thought to these seven battlefields and the amount of influence they exert over them, despite the fact that Loren Cunningham, of Youth with a Mission, and Bill Bright, of Campus Crusade for Christ, first spoke of them in 1974—over forty years ago. As followers of Christ, we must become better at discerning the moves of the Enemy on these battlefields in order to aid the forces of God in this conflict. Doing so will help us all to improve in employing the proper countermeasures, which aids the forces of light in mounting effective offensive actions.

The Seven Battlefields

In the Book of Proverbs, God informs us that the two major ways that people’s hearts are influenced are by the things we see with our eyes and hear with our ears. This may be why God provides the reader of Proverbs with so many warnings to protect his or her heart by being very careful about what we look at and listen to.  Like any great war that involves many different battlefields, the one being fought for the hearts of humankind is happening in seven different arenas of life:

1. Media & Communication

The ability to exchange ideas and disseminate information, whether true or false, is one of the most important ways to influence and control people. This is why the battlefield of Media and Communication is a critical arena for the armies of light and the forces of darkness. Since the beginning of time, the Adversary has attempted to control mankind by shaping thought, which he does by controlling information. The story of Nimrod and the Tower of Babel is a perfect example of how the Devil was able to use mankind’s singular language as a means to promote his evil agenda of rebellion against God (Gen. 10-11). The fact that God stepped in and shook things up by limiting man’s ability to communicate demonstrates exactly how key this field of combat is in the spiritual war.

Since humankind’s dispersion following the confusing of languages at the Tower of Babel, our ability to freely communicate has been very limited. Even when translations into multiple languages could be made, in the past it still took time for hand-written or spoken royal edicts to filter through the empires, and for vital information from remoter regions to make its way back to the rulers.

This greatly changed in 1440 when Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press. Suddenly our ability to communicate exploded.  It was estimated that in the mid 1500’s the Reformation of Christianity was greatly fueled by Martin Luther’s 95 theses being printed over 250,000 times in a very short span. Bibles were the first thing to ever roll off the press, which allowed the masses to question the ruling powers by undermining their ability to control social thought.

In the past 100 years, the field of communication has exploded with the telegraph followed by the telephone, radio, and television. Just as the battlefield of Media and Communication can be used for good, it can also be a source of much evil. Today we are again seeing a great clashing of spiritual swords with the exponential explosion of communication through the Internet and social media. Ideas can now traverse the globe in mere seconds. It is no coincidence that false information dominates this stage.

2. Arts & Entertainment

The field of Arts and Entertainment, which includes the music industry, television shows, movies, and books, is very similar to Media and Communication in that it is about the transfer of information—although it is a much subtler way of influencing the minds and thoughts of humankind. God tells us that “bad company corrupts good character (1 Cor. 15:33), which is why the kind of company we keep with our thoughts is heavily influenced by the things we see and hear.

Nowadays television, movies, and the Internet bring all kinds of ungodly content into our homes and workplaces as they promote sensuality, spread lies, or instill fear and a desire for vengeance. When used for evil, the Arts & Entertainment can desensitize the populace to all kinds of godless behaviors and ideas. It has been said that by age 18, children spend more time subjecting their minds to the influence of the arts and entertainment than they do in the classroom. On the other hand, these things can also be used to praise and worship the Creator and to spread the gospel. How it is being used depends on which army is winning the conflict.

3. Education

Most people readily understand the tremendous influence that the Arts & Entertainment and the Media & Communication have on people, but the battlefield of Education is equally impacting on minds and hearts. In the western world, a child begins formal schooling as early as four or five years old (children now attend formalized “pre-school” at age 4). Even just between the first and twelfth grade, the average child spends close to 11,000 hours[1] in the classroom. Consider too the additional time spent doing homework assignments, extracurricular activities, and additional years of schooling at the university level, and you can see how people can literally be programmed to think and act a certain way by such a constant environment.

It should be no wonder, then, why we are seeing an explosion in anti-Christian worldviews as children are bombarded by thousands of hours of secularism, scientism, materialism, pluralism and gender issues. Clearly the battlefield of Education is especially harmful when you have academia geared toward an anti-God environment.

In his book Invading Babylon, author Bill Johnson stated, “While it could be argued that the entertainers today have the greater role in shaping the minds of the young, it is the educators who generally shape the minds of the entertainers in their way of thinking.”[2] It is no wonder that we are now seeing more youth that are confused, lacking a moral anchor, and are becoming a generation of “nones”—no god, no morals, no genuine right or wrong.

Unfortunately, much of the intrusion of the various worldviews that promote anti-Christ type attitudes is the result of Christians not being more engaged in, or even abandoning altogether, the battlefield of Education. Turning the primary responsibility of the education of our children over to “professional” educators plays right into the Enemy’s hand. No parent would ever think of sending their child to a restaurant where 1 in 10 people die of food poisoning, but yet many never even think twice about sending their children into an educational system where they are routinely exposed to poisonous thinking and belief systems.  I am not against public schools, but parents cannot be absent when it comes to what our children are being taught. We must remain engaged in this battlefield if we are to counteract the forces of evil.

4. Business & Economy

Godly people conduct themselves ethically in business and the handling of money. For them, unlike the ungodly, the ends do not justify the means and acting with integrity is highly treasured, even if it means losing money in a business deal or an investment. Contrast that with the ungodly who will steal, cheat, and lie as they seek unjust enrichment, even when it comes at great loss and pain to others.

The battlefield of Business and Economy is vitally important to both the armies of God and the Devil because it’s often through the medium of money that good and bad is greatly promoted and sustained. Consider how the other battlefronts are supported through business and the economy. The bottom line is that Hollywood and the music industry are essentially just businesses; they cease work when the money stops flowing into them. Even television networks such as NBC, CBS, FOX, and others must be supported through advertising revenue.  Cut off the revenue, and their ability to promote their agendas shifts into neutral—it goes nowhere.

Money is power, and it buys influence, which is why there are so many verses in the Bible that speak of money and goods, and the godly way of handling of them. The importance of this battlefield can be inferred simply from the fact that there are about 500 verses in the Bible on prayer, but there are over 2,350 on the handling of money and possessions. [3]

There is a reciprocal, albeit almost a parasitic, relationship between the battlefield of business and the others. The kind of person who wins on the battlefield of Media, Arts, Communication, and Education determines the kind of person who will lead in Business, and the kind of person leading in Business in turn supports them. God has given us clear instructions concerning business and the economy;

Hebrews 13:5 NIV
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.”

5. Government

Government is the ultimate form of control over other people, and those who govern are determined and swayed by all the other battlefields (Media, Entertainment, Education, Business, Religion, and Family).

I do not believe there is one particular form of government that is good or evil in itself. While it is true that there are some that are more inclined toward evil, or are more easily manipulated by it, a righteous government exists whenever the leadership governs righteously. A dictatorship can be kind and benevolent, if you have a kind and benevolent dictator. Even a representative form of government, like the one we have in the United States today, can become corrupt when you have elected elites who are more devoted to self-interest and personal enrichment than they are to governing in accordance with God’s desires and ways.

The actual type of government is irrelevant, because a government simply reflects the nature of those who are in position to govern. God even tells us that there is a day coming when a sole King will rule, and it will be a great and wonderful time because that King will righteously administer justice and promote peace (Rev. 20:6). Speaking of the 2016 Presidential election in the United States, Dr. Lance Wallnau correctly stated in his book, God’s Chaos Candidate:

“This is not a conflict, as some would like to make it, between opposing political parties or economic views. It is a conflict of a much more fundamental and cosmic nature.”[4]

Clearly, as followers of Jesus, we need to pray for an increase in godly leadership in government.

1 Timothy 2:1-3 NIV
I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior.

6. Religion

Of all the various fields of spiritual engagement, Christians tend to be the most familiar with the battlefield of Religion. Here the enemy lines stand out distinctly with their erroneous beliefs and idolatrous falsehoods. Although Christianity continues to spread, so too does paganism. It is reported that out of a world population now approaching 7 billion people, there are about 2.2 billion Christians, 1.6 billion Muslims, 1 billion Hindus, and 360 million Buddhists [5]. Add to this mix the other minor world religions, plus the New Age movement, Spiritism, Mysticism, and Witchcraft, and you can see there is a formidable foe out there. All of these movements are violations of God’s first command: to worship the only true God.

One thing we can be sure of as we draw closer to the return of Christ is that false belief systems will increase. People will slurp up lies like cold milk to wash down yummy chocolate chip cookies. Despite the rising opposition, we must not grow weary in our attempts to reach others with the Good News of Jesus. Far too many Christians have gotten soft, becoming spiritual couch potatoes, as they fail to confront wickedness—tolerating, and even participating in it. Additionally, Christian leadership is often unclear on the teaching of biblical mandates, and in their fear of a loss of attendance—loss of money—they fail to be the collective conscience of society that they could and should be.

Like it or not, Christians are being pushed right into the middle of many social controversies. Losing the battle of religion will result in the collapse of all freedoms. In many ways, the Christian church has become “salt that has lost its savor.” (Matt. 5:13) We must fight fearlessly on this battleground or soon we will be seeing the signs saying, “Welcome to the Coliseum, Folks!”

7. Family

The family unit has been under attack since the dawn of man. Just a cursory look at families today shows a picture of fractured households, single-parent situations, abuse, hatred, and many other kinds of division. God intended for the family to be a unit with a father-mother team leading the children. We have biblical evidence since Genesis 4 of a spiritual attack on the family, starting with the very first family of Adam and Eve, whose first son murdered his brother. The Bible is full of stories depicting the assault on the family.

Why so much focus on the family? Because it is the most fundamental unit of society. Break the family down, and soon you will have a breakdown in society. This is why all the previously listed battlefields are aimed as attacks on the family—financially, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically, and even educationally. Fathers and mothers must step up and lead their families righteously, actively teaching and training their children in the true ways of God and His Son, Jesus. This is the most important battlefield of all, and it is the one place where we can exert the greatest influence over our children and the future generations.

Called to the battle front

After looking at the seven battlefields it can seem as if we are completely surrounded by the spiritual war—and the reality is that we are. Although this can be depressing, we must be careful not to over-spiritualize things and begin to see ghosts behind every post. We take comfort in knowing that the battle is between God and His Enemy, and victory has already been secured through Christ.  The point of understanding the seven spiritual battlefields is so that we properly discern what is happening. This equips us so that we never retreat from the battle line; instead, we can engage the culture for the forces of light on each front.

Endnotes:

[1] 5 hours a day x 5 days a week x 9 months x 12 years = 10,800 hours.
[2] Dr. Lance Wallnau & Bill Johnson, Invading Babylon; The Seven Mountain Mandate. Destiny Image Publishers, Inc. P.O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA17257-0310 2013, page 33
[3]  Sound Mind Investing, The Financial Newsletter for Today’s Christian Family, Volume 12, Number 3, March 2001
[4] Dr. Lance Wallnau, God’s Chaos Candidate; the American Unraveling. Killer Sheep Media, Inc. Keller, TX 76248, 2016, pg. 129
[5] The Global Religious Landscape,; Pew Research Center, Religious & Public Life, December 18, 2012; http://www.pewforum.org/2012/12/18/global-religious-landscape-exec/

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The Ears: The Second Gateway to the Heart: Part 3: Two Spiritual Languages

God commands in no uncertain terms that we “diligently keep” His words and commandments so that we can love the Lord with all our heart, walk in all His ways and cleave to Him (Deuteronomy 11:22, KJV). We cannot love God if His words have no place in our hearts. We cannot walk with God if our hearts are empty and void of His words. The Hebrew phrase translated as “diligently keep” is shama, shama. God emphasizes the supreme importance of this truth by saying it twice. When God repeats a word in close and immediate succession in the Bible, this indicates something that is vital for us to understand. E. W. Bullinger, in Figures of Speech Used in the Bible, says:

It is a common and powerful way of emphasizing a particular word, by thus marking it and calling attention to it. In writing, one might accomplish this by putting the word in large letters, or by underlining it two or three times. In speaking it is easy to mark it by expressing it with increased emphasis or vehemence. How important for us to notice, in the Scriptures, the words and impressions which the Holy Spirit has thus marked and emphasizes in order to impress us with their importance.[i]

God is sounding out the clarion call to every heart: “Hear! Hear! Listen! Listen! Obey! Obey!” He spoke the word twice so we would never forget just how important the ears are to our hearts. In the Hebrew culture, hearing was not merely a passive act. You were not considered to have heard something unless you responded and took action on what was heard. To hear God is to act upon His words so a transformation of the heart can take place. If my life is not changing and becoming a reflection of these words, then I have not really heard them. When God says to hear Him, He does not mean to simply hear the sound waves hitting our ears, but also to carefully listen, pay attention, and do what He instructs us to do. Every day it is our sacred duty and responsibility before God to hear, listen, pay attention, and obey. This is the formula for a healthy heart. Yet this simple formula has been so hard for the heart to follow because of the amazing levels of deception that are present in the world. This is perfectly illustrated in the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden. In one of the most critical moments of all history, God repeated a word twice to the human heart in Eden. The destiny of the entire human race depended upon whether Adam and Eve would hear, listen and obey.

And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat of any tree in the garden; But you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat of it you shall surely (muwth) die (muwth).” (Genesis 2:16–17, ESV)

God could not emphasize the importance of this truth any more forcefully. Adam listen to me, hear me, pay attention and above all obey these words for if you do not you shall die! Die! Not soon after this strong command and warning from God, the devil, the master of deceit, came into the Garden of Eden and captured Eve’s ear and smoothly uttered the same word twice to the human heart.

But the serpent said to the woman, “You shall not surely (muwth) die (muwth).” (Genesis 3:4, ESV)

Satan was also forcefully emphasizing his lie and, in a sense, mocking God’s words as he sugarcoated his lie, crooning to Eve, “Listen to me! Pay attention! Hear what I have to say, for I know what is best for you more than God does. I’m not sure why God said those words to you or why He’s not telling you the truth. I am here for your benefit to make you better! You absolutely will not die, die! Trust me!” Eve had to decide whether God’s words or the devil’s words would take root in her heart. This decision affected every human that has since lived upon the earth. The most monumental decision in all of human history and was the result of a battle of words.

Whenever God’s words are rejected, it brings death in some way, shape, or form to the human heart. Words of life and words of death were set before Eve, and she had to choose which words she would believe.

John 1:1 declares, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” God and His words cannot be separated, for they are one. God is His Word. God speaks out who He is, and His words are an expression of the very essence of His being. John 1:4 says, “That in Him was life and that life was the light of all mankind.” God is life, and His words are life, and His words bring life and light to all mankind. God lives in His words; God breathes in His words; God moves in His words. God’s words always bring transforming life and power and never have one ounce of death in them.

Death, by the most basic definition, is the absence of life. The devil’s words are full of death, but they masquerade as words of life and light. In John 8:44, Jesus tells us, “When [the devil] lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and father of lies.” The devil’s words are an expression of the very essence of his being, and the devil lives, breathes and moves in His words. He is always speaking the lie, the untruth, and the deceitful tale. His lies are extremely alluring, yet when all the layers are peeled away, all that is left is death and separation from the heart of God.

But oh, how the human heart loves a lie and wraps itself in it! O how Eve loved the lie more than the truth! A lie is sweet music welcomed by the ear of most of the human race. This is sadly illustrated in the lyrics of a popular song of the hour:

Just gonna stand there and watch me burn? But that’s all right, because I like the way it hurts. Just gonna stand there and hear me cry? But that’s all right, because I love the way you lie.[ii]

We have fallen in love with lies in our culture. Lying has become the native language and doublespeak for the entire world. It is the terrible transaction described in Romans 1:25 where the world exchanges the truth of God for a lie. The devil makes his lies glimmer and shine so that the ear gladly receives them. Then he stands back and watches the heart burn in bitterness, disappointment, disillusionment, and destruction. The lie is the great weapon of Satan’s deception and the grand message of His kingdom. His lies always distort the truth about the heart of God and His awesome purposes and plans.

Deuteronomy 11 sets forth God’s great cry to every generation: “Take heed to yourselves that your heart not be deceived and you turn from me and serve other gods.” The words “take heed” are the same Hebrew word “shamar” that we studied earlier, and it means to exercise great care to watch over, to preserve, guard, keep an eye on, pay close attention and protect. The Hebrew word translated as “deceive” means to be persuaded, enticed, deceived and deluded by words. Its basic root means “to be opened and to spread out.” We must diligently protect and guard our hearts from Satan’s deception by not allowing ourselves to be enticed and persuaded by his words. We cannot open our ears to any of his words, for they will spread like cancer in our hearts.

The heart can be taken out by deception so quickly that it boggles the mind. How quickly the heart can turned away from God. Eve’s heart was taken out in a matter of minutes, and the consequences of her failing to take heed to the words of God and instead trusting the words of the serpent were disastrous for the entire human race. King Solomon’s beautiful heart was turned away from God to serve other gods by listening to the words of his pagan wives, and it had devastating consequences for the kingdom of Israel for generations. Samson’s mighty heart for God was taken out by listening to the sincere and deceitful words of Delilah, and it cost him his life and destroyed a mighty judge and warrior for God. Judas’s heart, as a friend and disciple of Jesus, was turned and destroyed by listening to the political and religious ideas of the age about money, power and the nature of the Messiah. These are sobering lessons in Scripture. We must be vigilant like a trained soldier, monitoring what is coming into the heart through the gateway of the ear, for the ears are the beginning point of all deception.

Test Every Word

But we don’t have to be deceived! The Bible declares that we are to test every word we hear to determine whether it is worthy to enter our hearts:

Hear my words, you wise men; listen to me, you men of learning. For the ear tests words as the tongue tastes food. (Job 34:2–3, NIV)

The Hebrew word rendered as “test” in this passage means to search out, examine, try, and prove. The noun form of this word refers to a garrisoned watchtower from which the people were to guard their fields and cities. It’s the same word used in the Scriptures when God tests and examines the heart or when precious metals like gold or silver are tested or proved as to their purity.

We are to examine and test every word we hear to determine whether or not it meets God’s standard of purity, integrity, and truth. Our ear is to be like a watchtower, and no word should be allowed to enter the heart without going through this testing process to see if we should open the gate and give it entry.

Do the words you are listening to originate from the heart of God or the heart of the devil? Should the words be believed or trusted or followed? Do these words bring glory to God? Do they advance the kingdom of God or the realm of darkness? Does the word promote the will, purposes, and desires of God or the devil?

So many words enter our ears, and we must not let any sneak past completely unaware. Don’t allow the words of the enemy to circumvent the gate and begin to take root and residence in your heart. Instead, seek the voice of God and the words He is speaking. Otherwise, your heart will soon be ripe for rebellion against the Almighty. These words are still being said for our ears to hear: “Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion” Hebrews 3:15 (PHILLIPS).

The Closing of Israel’s Ears

From the first time that God’s covenant people Israel breathed life as a nation, their ears did not hear and their hearts did not understand their awesome God. Their ears were shut like an iron gate to the words of the Lord:

To whom shall I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the Lord is offensive to them; they find no pleasure in it. From the least to the greatest all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. (Jeremiah 6:10, 13, NIV)

But which of them has stood in the council of the Lord to see or to hear his word? Who has listened and heard his word? (Jeremiah 23:18, NIV)

But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder and stopped their ears that they might not hear. (Zechariah 7:11, ESV)

This was their distinguishing mark as a people and a nation, that they were rebels in disobedience to the message and words of their covenant God.

Barnes Notes on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah says, “To open the ear, denotes a prompt and ready attention to what God says and to close the ear denotes an unwillingness to listen to what is spoken by Him.”[iii] It’s amazing that any person would voluntarily close his ears to the voice of God. Yet even though God taught what was best for Israel in every circumstance and dilemma in life and had promised to always lead them in the way they should go, they were unwilling to listen and turned their backs on Him. They were essentially telling the Creator of the heavens and earth to “shut up,” for they didn’t want to hear or understand what He had to say. God Almighty dwelt in their midst, but they paid no attention. This was the immeasurable, infinite, eternal, all-knowing, fathomless God! How could they not hang on His every word?! They had forgotten the words of David:

Therefore, you are great O Lord God; for there is no one like you, and there is no God besides you, according to all we have heard with our ears. (2 Samuel 7:22, NRSV)

Because they would not listen, and because they would not hear, God’s own people allowed their hearts to turn ice cold against Him and defied Him with rebellion and deceit:

“You have neither heard or understood; from of old your ears have not been open. Well do I know how treacherous you are; you were called a rebel from birth.” (Isaiah 48:8, NIV)

What’s even more amazing about this rebellion of Israel that the prophets and priests were leading the way! The prophets and priests were supposed to shepherd and nurture God’s flock, helping them to grow more intimate in their relationship with the Lord. Yet they led God’s people astray. God could not trust His spiritual leadership for their ears were dead to His words. O how they forsook their calling to represent the heart of God to His beloved children! O how they broke the heart of God and caused Him endless sorrow! All because they would not hear! All because they would not listen! They refused to allow God to enter their heart by closing, like a massive steel door, the gate of their ear to His words.

The Priest’s Ear: Set Apart for God

God set up the ministry of the priest in such a beautiful way to minister the heart of God to the needs of His people. The priest was the doorkeeper of the tabernacle and was supposed to tend to both God and His people in his sacred duties. The priests were to help restore the hearts of His people to the ways of God and keep them on the path of His righteousness. They were to teach the words of God to the nation of Israel so these words could take root and grow into fruit in the heart of His children. They were the great guardians of the heart for every Israelite. Not only were they to abide in the presence of God every precious moment that they drew breath upon the earth, but the glory of God was to rest upon their every work and every word from their mouths.

No one in Israel should have understood the heart of God more than the priests! No one should have been more completely devoted to God. The priests were chosen by God to minister to Him, pronounce His blessings on the people, and to resolve every controversy or dispute in Israel. What an awesome and humbling privilege to be a priest of God who created the heavens and earth whose greatness there is no end!

The heart of the priest was to be pure, radically loyal, and committed to God. The priest’s ear was to be always open and awake to His tender whisper. This is why the ears of the priest were to be consecrated to the Lord:

“Take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head. Slaughter it, take some of its blood and put it on the lobes of the right ears of Aaron and his sons, on the thumbs of their right hands, and on the big toes of their right feet. Then splash blood against the sides of the altar.” (Exodus 29:19–20, NIV)

The ear of the priest was to be stained with the blood of sacrifice and cleansed from the impurity of sin and the control of the selfish, idolatrous sin nature. The priest’s ear was set apart for God and set above the world. The priest was to hear differently than the world, for he was to be attuned to the Spirit of God and receptive to His voice rather than the deceptive melody of the world.

The ear represents the priest’s intimate relationship with God, and the ability to hear from God and converse with Him. He had the covenant legal right to hear from God, to talk with Him and commune with Him. His ear was dedicated, consecrated, and sanctified, thus prepared to hear the voice of God first above any other word or noise he might hear. The priest’s ear was to be sensitive to hear God’s calling, and he was to always follow God’s voice in loyal obedience.

What an unbelievable tragedy occurred when God’s own priests were offended by His voice and stopped their ears from hearing His words! The priests refused to listen and took no delight or pleasure in an intimate relationship with God. Their hearts became like a barren wilderness without the waters of the Spirit to sustain it. The priests became the opposite of everything God intended them to be simply because they failed to give their ears to the Almighty.

The Prophets’ Downfall

Were the prophets any better? No one on earth should have had an ear more tuned to God’s words than the prophet. He was God’s spokesman, mouthpiece, and messenger. A prophet was never to speak his own words but only that which he divinely heard from the heart of God. They were to declare God’s will in no uncertain terms. To have the breathtaking and awesome honor to speak to men and woman on behalf of God is the highest service a person could ever render to the human race.

The prophet’s ministry was birthed and brought to light in the glorious presence of the Lord where he heard the words that describe the heart of God to His people. His ear was to be synchronized to the heartbeat of God, to be finely tuned to His voice. The prophet was to be ready at any moment to hear the sovereign Lord speak.

The Word of the Lord burned in the prophet’s heart like a flame, and by that word he would admonish, warn, encourage, exhort, reprove, and rebuke, urging the people to turn back to God and forsake their foolish ways. “Thus saith the Lord” was the great cry of the prophet, and his message would change the destiny of individuals, families, cities, and nations.

The prophet grieved over the sin of God’s people. He was zealous for God with a burning passion, and he fervently prayed to God with endless devotion. He saw the people and the nations from God’s perspective and felt God’s anger and pain. The prophet was uncompromising on truth and did not budge one inch from the Word of God. His soul would not rest until God’s word was proclaimed from the mountaintops to all who would listen. The prophet laid siege to the hearts of God’s people, and his words were like sword that pierced the callous layers of the heart or like molten lava that would melt away at their hardness. The prophet was a mighty man on the earth and a great warrior for the Lord of Hosts. O how the earth would shake and the nations tremble at the word of the prophet.

But the prophets of Israel and Judah, like the priests, became defiled and turned against God, rejecting his words as they closed their ears like an iron door to His voice. O what mourning echoed the halls of heaven when God’s passionate mouthpiece rejected the Almighty and ran after the ways of the world! O how could God’s flame of fire and zealous advocate forsake Him and run from His voice? Instead of speaking the thundering words of truth, they wrapped themselves in religious deceit.

From the least to the greatest, all are greedy for gain; prophets and priests alike, all practice deceit. (Jeremiah 6:13, NIV)

Rebellion was never to enter the heart of the prophet, for above all people he was to be courageous and uncontaminated by the idolatry that runs rampant on the earth. Yet God saw the great folly of the prophets of Judah and Israel, whose hearts rebelled against the Him. In Jeremiah 23, God sounds out the severe indictment against them. These are some of the most somber and heart-wrenching verses in Scripture and stand as a grave warning to all who refuse to listen to the Lord:

My heart within me is broken because of the prophets … I have seen folly in the prophets of Samaria: They prophesied by Baal and caused My people Israel to err. Also I have seen a horrible thing in the prophets of Jerusalem: They commit adultery and walk in lies; they also strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one turns back from his wickedness. All of them are like Sodom to Me, and her inhabitants like Gomorrah. (Jeremiah 23:9, 13–14, NKJV)

How long will this be in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies? Indeed they are prophets of the deceit of their own heart … Therefore behold, I am against the prophets,” says the Lord. (Jeremiah 23:26, 30, NKJV)

What a chilling statement as to what can happen to the heart when the ears go astray! The prophets had allowed their hearts to become full of idolatry, lies, and wickedness. And by their actions, they had strengthened evil in the hearts of God’s chosen. God looked at their hearts and called them “the prophets of deceit” and made the somber declaration that He was against them.

With the prophets and priests falling away from God into the depths of idolatry, a severe famine struck the land. This was not a famine of food or water, but was a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.

“The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I will send a famine through the land—not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. People will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it. (Amos 8:11–12, NIV)

This is the most destructive form of famine because it strikes at the heart and causes the fabric of society to unravel. Sin and disobedience flourish when God’s words are not heard, and so Israel and Judah were plunged into darkness. The heart is blind without the light and guidance of the words of the Lord and is cursed to an existence of stumbling about, wandering aimlessly in the dark.

The priests and prophets brought about this famine because they despised the voice of the Lord. They fed the hearts of the people with words devised from their own imaginations and deceptive reasoning. But these words utterly failed to quench the people’s thirst or satisfy their hunger.

Only hearing the words of the Lord and obeying them out of a heart of love, awe and thankfulness can truly satisfy the hunger and thirst of the human heart. But if the heart continues in its folly, Amos 8:14 pronounces its ultimate end: “Even they shall fall, and never rise again.” How vital it is that we listen to and heed the words of the living God!

No Vacancy?

The religious leaders in the time of Christ followed the tragic example of the priests and prophets of the Old Testament, as they did not have ears to hear what God was saying through His written Word and, ultimately, through His Son, the Living Word. Jesus made the astounding statement that the Pharisees had no room in their hearts for His word (John 8:37). It is like the words of the Lord showed up on the doorstep of these men and were met with cries of “No vacancy! No room available! We are completely full!” What an indictment against those who call themselves God’s priests and elders!

Their hearts wallowed in spiritual desolation and darkness, completely void of life and light because they refused to allow the words of the Lord occupancy in their hearts. Their hearts were full of so much religious junk and prideful arrogance that they refused to give God any space there. Not even the smallest piece of their hearts was dedicated to God, and they simply didn’t want to hear what He had to say.

Do you have room in your heart for the words of the Lord, or is it just too crowded with other things? Is there a “No Vacancy” or a “Welcome” sign hanging on the door to your heart when the Lord comes calling? God wants to write on the tablet of your heart, and He earnestly desires that you lay up His words in your heart (Job 22:22); that you would hide His words in your heart so that you do not sin against Him (Psalm 119:11); that you bind the words of God to your heart so that when you walk they will lead you, when you sleep they will watch over you, and when you wake they will talk to you (Proverbs 6:21–22); and that the word of Christ dwell in you richly (Colossians 3:16).

This cannot happen if you are not listening. This cannot happen if you are not spending time in His Word. This cannot happen if your heart is honoring someone else’s words above the words of the Lord. The heart is not a vacuum. It is always being filled with someone’s words, ideas, beliefs, desires, and values. What words does your heart treasure? What sign hangs on the door of your heart?

The Two Spiritual Languages

Jesus answers this question for us concerning the Pharisees, who were tuning their ears to the wrong spiritual father:

“I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you go what you have heard from your father. Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire … When he lies, he speaks his native language … Whoever belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” (John 8:37-38, 43-44, 47, NIV)

Jesus Christ spoke God’s beautiful language that was spoken into his heart during the times he spent in sweet fellowship with the Father and the Word. This language brings the very life of God into the heart, mending, restoring and healing it. Yet the Pharisees, the top religious order of the day, could not hear God’s language because they had sold out their ears to another father. They had tuned their ears to the language proceeding from the heart of the archenemy of God, the devil. They thought they were serving God, but their hearts did not belong to God. They thought they were devoted to God, but their ears betrayed them and showed that their commitment to the true God was just a visual show and a sham.

Our heart desires the things that our ear most attentively listens to. So whom are we listening to? There are two spiritual languages in life, God’s and the devil’s, and our ears are devoted to either one or the other. The desires of the heart are birthed from the spiritual language we are listening to.

The ear is a critical instrument to keep the flame for God burning in the heart. In order to keep a great longing and desire for God, the ear must be tuned to His voice and be attentively listening to His words. Fervent desire for anything in life is funneled into the furnace of the heart through the ear. Once desire for something is birthed in the heart, then the heart begins to bend towards its passion and produces works, actions, words, and habits arising from the heart’s desires. Desire is essential to all of life, including a life that is devoted to God.

The priest, prophet, and Pharisee were to be passionate for God above all else, and this flame was to be kept burning by the words God spoke into their hearts. But if the ear is not tuned to God, there can be no passion for God. Desire for God dies quickly and is replaced by a desire for the things of the world. Jesus exposed the hearts of these men who claimed to be the spiritual leaders of Israel and showed what trouble their ears got them into. Their ears had turned the desires and passions of their hearts to the devil and not to God. This is a profound and sobering truth to think about. These men, who claimed to represent God, willed and desired with great emotion to do the will of the devil. Satan’s words had given birth to the cravings, yearnings, aspirations, and passions in their hearts. They had become the children of a new father in word and deed. The devil was spreading his seed of death, destruction, and chaos through these children, these Pharisees, who had listened to his deceptive words and reasoning.

Your Life is Molded by Your Ear

God was forever crying out to His prophets, priests, and people, “Hear, O Israel” (Deuteronomy 6:4). God cries out to all generations: “Hear my words, hear my truth, hear my instructions, hear my warnings, hear my encouragement, hear my voice and hear my heart!” The great characteristic of a child of God is that he or she hears what God says (John 10:27). The ear is the beginning of a relentless passion and devotion for God in the heart. What you are is directly related to what you hear and obey. Our life is molded and shaped by our ear. Our great work and service for the kingdom of God starts with hearing and obeying the voice of the Shepherd. We will always fail in our divine calling if we listen to and follow another.

Indeed, one of the worst maladies that has plagued mankind since the beginning of the world is deafness to the voice of God:

For God speaks again and again, though people do not recognize it. (Job 33:14, NLT)

When I called, why was there no one to answer? (Isaiah 50:2, NKJV)

For since the beginning of the world, men have not heard or perceived by the ear (Isaiah 64:4, NKJV)

When I spoke they did not listen. (Isaiah 66:4, NLT)

God is always calling out to the world to behold His majesty, His glory, and His love, but no one is listening. People cannot stir and arouse their hearts to take hold of God and cleave unto Him if they cannot hear His words. “We must pay the most careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away.” Their hearts are swept away by sin and made hard to the will of God when we do not listen for His voice. This fatal heart disease is at the center of every rebellion against God in the history of the heavens and earth. God cannot revive, restore and purify the heart that has no ears to hear, because it refuses to be fed, nourished and transformed by His life-giving words. God gives the formula for a healthy spiritual heart in Proverbs: “Dear friend, listen well to my words; tune your ears to my voice. Keep my message in plain view at all times. Concentrate! Learn it by heart! Those who discover these words live, really live; body and soul, they’re bursting with health” (Proverbs 4:20–22, MSG). Our hearts will burst with health when we tune our ears to His voice!

[i] E. W. Bullinger, Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1968), 189.

[ii] Eminem, “Love the Way You Lie,” Recovery, 2010, CD.

[iii] Albert Barnes, Barnes’ Notes on the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, Volume II (New York: Leavitt and Allen, 1853), 194.

Excerpt from: The Heart: The Key to Everything in the Christian Life: https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Key-Everything-Christian-Life/dp/1483447928/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1499477494&sr=1-1&keywords=heart+key+to+everything

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“Yes Lord” is a Prayer

As Christians, we tend to spend a lot of time praying, “Please, Lord, do this” or “Please, Lord, do that.” We are constantly asking God to initiate something. “Please bring my son or daughter home. Please give me a better job.” Now those are good and valid prayers. However, there are times when God chooses to initiate something on His own, and all He is looking for is someone who will agree with Him—someone who will not only pray, “Please, Lord” but “Yes, Lord!”

For example, through the prophet Ezekiel, God said, “I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one” (Ezekiel 22:30). This was a time when God had already initiated mercy, and He was just looking for somebody to agree with Him.

Unfortunately, when society reaches a condition much like ours today, it is a lot easier to come up with reasons as to why judgment should come. However, what if God is willing to be merciful, and He is simply seeking for some among His people who will say, “Yes, Lord?”

ABRAHAM’S SERVANT

We see the impact of this “Yes, Lord” prayer in the book of Genesis when Abraham sent one of his servants to find a bride for his son Isaac. In fact, this turned out to be an interaction that changed the course of history! Rebekah, the bride he found, eventually bore Isaac two sons: Jacob and Esau. Jacob became the father of the nation of Israel, and through that nation came our Messiah!

Now before we get to the “Yes, Lord” part of the story, there are certain characteristics of this servant of Abraham that are noteworthy. First of all, the Bible tells us that “the servant put his hand under the thigh of Abraham his master, and swore to him concerning this matter” (Genesis 24:9). In other words, he was a man of his word; a person of truth. The truth of God is a lamp to our feet and a light to our path (see Psalm 119:105). If you and I are people of truth, God can begin to lead us on a pathway that will bring great glory to His name.

The passage continues, “The servant took ten of his master’s camels and departed, for all his master’s goods were in his hand” (Genesis 24:10). If you are a person of truth who wants to find a bride for the Master’s Son, God will put everything you need into your hand. He will give you wisdom, kindness, joy, peace, faith, and vision. God will always abundantly supply whatever is required for the work He has called you to do.

“And he made his camels kneel down outside the city by a well of water at evening time, the time when women go out to draw water. Then he said, ‘O Lord God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham’” (24:11–12). Notice how he asked that God would show kindness to his master. And so we have a picture of the kind of person God will use: the man or woman who is not looking for his or her own glory. Their prayers are not for their own sake but rather for the glory of God and the sake of others.

“Behold, here I stand by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down your pitcher that I may drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink’—let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac” (Genesis 24:13–14).

We see that this servant was given boldness to pray a specific prayer. When you value the commission of God, suddenly you will find yourself praying prayers that go beyond generic. The amazing thing is that in this case, before the servant had finished speaking, the answer came (see Genesis 24:15).

OBEDIENT TO THE PROMPTINGS

While the servant’s prayer on his side was, “Please, Lord,” on the other side was a young girl named Rebekah. Perhaps she was sitting at home when suddenly the thought to go to the well dropped into her heart. Imagine if Rebekah had said, “No, let my sister go. I went yesterday. I have a headache and I don’t feel like going all the way to the well.” How different history would have been! Fortunately, she was a young girl who obeyed the promptings of the Lord.

If only we, too, would learn to obey the promptings of the Holy Spirit! There might be somebody across the hall in your apartment building today who is praying, “Please, God, show me if You are real.” And all God is looking for from you is, “Yes, Lord” as He moves on your heart to go visit them.

This reminds me of a time years ago when the Lord impressed upon my heart to start a Bible study in a little country church. Now, you had to be lost in order to drive by this church, for there was no way you could be going anywhere to pass by it. This small town called Pendleton was in an area of Canada with no Christian testimony for about forty square miles that we were aware of. I went to the board of the church and told them who I was and the reason I wanted to rent their church. They ended up allowing us to use the church free of charge, and they even provided a caretaker to turn on the heat and shovel the snow in the winter.

I immediately put together flyers advertising the Bible study and sent them out. The very first night, there was a snowstorm and nobody came! I ended up at the church with my six-year old son, Jason, and my brother-in-law, who was the worship leader. My brother-in-law asked, “Should we just go home?” “No,” I replied. “The Lord has called me to do this, so we are going to have a service tonight!” And we did. We worshiped God, my son shared his testimony, and we all had a great time! I continued to hold the Bible study week after week. Sometimes there were six people, sometimes only four. But eventually, over the course of a couple of years, the Bible study grew into a church. One church grew into two, plus a Christian school and a food bank—a testimony that still exists today!

What would have happened if I had just gone home on that first night of the Bible study? I could have said, “This is pointless— conducting a Bible study in the middle of nowhere with so few people is not worth the effort.” How sad it will be for some people when they arrive at the throne of God and realize that the Lord’s promptings were there to do something that would have brought honor to His name, yet they did not obey. Perhaps they could not believe God would use them or that it actually was His prompting. And so they stayed on the “Please, Lord” side of prayer and never moved on to “Yes, Lord.”

BEYOND THE MINIMUM

Returning to our passage, the Bible tells us that Rebekah was “very beautiful to behold, a virgin; no man had known her. And she went down to the well, filled her pitcher, and came up. And the servant ran to meet her, and said, ‘Please let me drink a little water from your pitcher.’ So she said, ‘Drink, my lord.’ Then she quickly let her pitcher down to her hand, and gave him a drink” (Genesis 24:16–18).

After she had finished giving the servant a drink, Rebekah offered, “‘I will draw water for your camels also, until they have finished drinking.’ Then she quickly emptied her pitcher into the trough, ran back to the well to draw water, and drew for all his camels” (Genesis 24:19–20).

Now I did some research and learned that a thirsty camel can drink between twenty-five and forty-five gallons in one sitting. Let’s be generous and say it was only a thirty-gallon day for each camel. Remember, Abraham’s servant had ten camels, so that would amount to three hundred gallons of water! Note that many of the wells in the ancient Near East were essentially big square holes in the ground with some steps going down to the water. Assuming that Rebekah had a five-gallon pail, which would be about as much as a teenage girl could carry, that meant sixty trips down to the well for her! Obviously, this was a young girl who did not want to do just the minimum.

Sadly, many people never fully realize the potential that God has for them in His kingdom because they always settle for the minimum—the least amount of time spent in Bible study, church attendance, and prayer—just enough to make it across the finish line. And then they are left wondering why they are always dissatisfied, having an empty sense in their heart that they are destined for more.

KNOWING THE FATHER’S HEART

When the camels had finished drinking, Abraham’s servant asked, “Whose daughter are you? Tell me, please, is there room in your father’s house for us to lodge?” (Genesis 24:23).

I love Rebekah’s response: “‘I am the daughter of Bethuel, Milcah’s son, whom she bore to Nahor.’ Moreover she said to him, ‘We have both straw and feed enough, and room to lodge’” (Genesis 24:24–25).

Her father had sent her to get five gallons of water, yet she was coming home with ten camels and several servants! You see, Rebekah knew there was room in her father’s house and she was confident that he would never disappoint her. She was so generous and went far beyond what was required because she knew the largeness of her father’s heart.

And so I ask you today: Do you know the largeness of your Father’s heart? Do you know His willingness to show mercy? Do you fully understand the longing in the heart of God to see this nation turn back to Him?

The Bible goes on to tell us that Abraham’s servant then “bowed down his head and worshiped the Lord” (Genesis 24:26).

Incredible! In the same way, I believe that many people today would bow and worship God if you and I would learn to say, “Yes Lord!”—if we were willing to show kindness beyond what is convenient; if we were willing to pray specific prayers; if we were willing to walk in obedience. When our society finally sees the Church fully engaged with the true work of God—reaching out to the lost, going the extra mile, showing kindness to those who do not necessarily deserve it—suddenly people will bow their heads and begin to worship.

THE “YES, LORD” SIDE

I am convinced that God is initiating something truly significant in this hour; He has decreed a moment of mercy for America. No matter how set against Christ people’s hearts have been in the past, God is now presenting an open window.

And so I do not want to spend all my prayer life on the “Please, Lord” side. I want to live on the “Yes, Lord” side and find out what my part is! “Yes, Lord, what do You want me to do? Yes, Lord, how do You want me to do it? Yes, Lord, what do You want me to say? Yes, Lord, where do You want me to go?” “Yes, Lord” must be our prayer today!

When God spoke to Rebekah, she had to move from where she was and go to where God was calling her in order for the miracle to happen. Similarly, God is speaking to people today, telling them to get up and out of certain things. So rather than constantly saying, “Please, Lord, give me the grace to get out of this relationship. Give me the grace to cease this practice,” it is time to start saying, “Yes, Lord, You have called me to something deeper. You have called me to make a difference in my society. You have called me to be a person who can boast of You to the point where others cannot help but bow their heads and worship. So I am no longer going to say, ‘Please, Lord’ while merely sitting in unbelief. I am going to agree with You, get out of where I should not be, and go to where You are calling me!”

Perhaps you already know what God is asking you to do. If He has already spoken to your heart, begin with those things. If the Lord is asking you to forgive, then forgive. If He is asking you to speak truth, then do so. If He is asking you to go beyond what is convenient in your service to Him, then do not hesitate to go the extra mile. Until you obey what He has already told you to do, the other leadings of the Lord will remain hidden.

Remember, all that God has ever asked of His people is that we walk with Him in agreement. Of course, we will not always know exactly where our “yes” to God will lead us. However, we do know that it will lead to the miraculous. It will usher us into places of impossibilities where God is able to display His power— places where we, as well as those around us, will begin to truly understand the largeness of our Father’s heart!

Carter Conlon ©2017 Times Square Church

Courtesy of http://www.tscnyc.org/sermons/47989_sermon-newsletter-201705-yes-lord-is-a-prayer.pdf

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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: Part 2: 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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