Kick-Start Your Quiet Time
I’ll never forget the day. I was a new Christian and sat down for what I knew would be barely a five-minute quiet time. Convicted, I confessed to God, “I know something has been standing in the way. I wake up and rush to work and barely spend a few minutes with You. I’m sorry, Lord.”
Later that night, I heard someone on TV talking about fasting. I’m not sure why, but right then and there, I decided I should fast – but from what? And for how long? The very next morning, after fixing my coffee, I sat down to pray and asked God, “From what should I fast, Lord?” The answer was as unexpected as it was unappetizing,
“Oh no, Lord. Not that! I don’t think I heard you right.”
“You look forward to your morning coffee more than you look forward to Me.”
Ouch. But I knew He was right. I poured my coffee down the drain and spent the entire day with a fierce headache. Whenever it demanded my full attention, instead of reaching for a cup of coffee or taking an aspirin, I prayed. I thanked God for my job, prayed for my co-workers, the progress of my book, or whatever else came to mind – anything to get my mind off my headache. At about 4:30 pm, I couldn’t stand it any longer. I was at a client’s office, in between meetings with 20 minutes to spare. I grabbed my cell phone, stepped outside, and called my best friend, whining about my headache and the 30-day fast I had started.
“Did God actually ask you to fast for 30 days, or was that your idea?” she asked.
“Um…I didn’t ask about the time. I just assumed a fast was supposed to be 30 or 40 days.”
“Well, then why are you wasting time talking to me? You should talk to God and ask Him what He really wants.”
With still 15 minutes before my next meeting, I walked over to my car and slumped into the passenger seat. I pulled out the pocket-sized Bible I kept in the glove box and began flipping through the pages. My eyes fell on Psalm 94:3, “How long, Oh Lord?” Taking the verse entirely out of context, I looked up at the roof of my car, and pitifully cried out, “How long, Lord?”
“As long as it takes.”
“To do what?”
“To put me first…You see, my child, the headache you have is just a picture. This is how you suffer spiritually when you deprive yourself of time with Me in the morning.”
It was quite an “ah-ha” moment. It was not that God wanted to see me suffer or to deprive me of my morning cup of coffee, something I really enjoyed. He simply wanted it moved out of first place. First place is reserved for God. That’s why the length of the fast was never clear: it’s not about time, it’s about position.
When we choose to give God first place each morning, we invite Him to pour out His Spirit into our soul. And as we drink in His reviving goodness each morning, we will be filled with the strength, confidence, and spiritual vigor to face whatever may come our way.
“In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation” (Psalm 5:3 NIV).
2 Kings 19:1-2 1When King Hezekiah heard this, he tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and went into the temple of the LORD. 2He sent Eliakim the palace administrator, Shebna the secretary and the leading priests, all wearing sackcloth, to the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz.
The Assyrian captain came to Jerusalem and shouted his propaganda to all the people. He said that the gods of other nations had not been able to deliver them and neither would Jehovah deliver Jerusalem.
When the officials brought the news to Hezekiah, he tore his clothes (a sign of anguish). He put on sackcloth (the rough garment was a sign of self- humiliation). Then he went to the temple of the LORD. In our last devotional we read that Hezekiah was a man who trusted in the LORD. When trouble comes you will turn to the place you really trust, regardless of what you profess.
Though Hezekiah was a righteous king, the LORD had allowed the defeat of many of the fortified cities of Judah. Just because you follow God with all your heart does not mean there will not be defeats and hardship. But we know where to turn. He went to the temple to seek God.
He also sent his whole staff in sackcloth to the prophet Isaiah. The prophet of the Old Testament was the spokesman for God. Hezekiah knew he needed to hear from God. The outcome of his godly response was an angel of God slaying 185,000 of the enemy and sending the remainder back to Assyria where their general was murdered. Archeologists have found evidence that verifies that Jerusalem was the one city that Assyria did not conquer at that time. God is faithful to those who place their trust in Him.
Meditation: Trouble may come our way. We may suffer defeats. But if we humble ourselves and place our hope in God, we will ultimately prevail.
Your Birthday: The Most and Least Important Day of Your Life
by Alex Crain, crosswalk.com
Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:1
Just before our second son Henry was born, I remember standing with my wife in the nursery, looking around and just taking everything in. The wooden crib stood assembled and accessorized with matching mobile, blankets, padding and pillows. Diapers, booties and footie pajamas were tucked away in the bureau. The oak rocking chair sat sturdily in the corner nearest the window. In only a matter of days a tiny boy would fill that little room with life and great joy.
People love babies. There is an inexplicable excitement that surrounds the beginning of life. But as soon as the day of birth arrives, it becomes simultaneously the most important day and least important day of one’s life. It is the most important because, without it, one wouldn’t have life; but it is also least important because it is only the starting point and then it’s past. After the moment of birth, the most important thing is, of course, living.
Obvious as it seems, I was reminded while reading Francis Schaeffer’s book, True Spirituality, that many professing Christians seem to languish in denial of this fact regarding the moment of their own spiritual birth. Ask a friendly question of, “how is your relationship with the Lord?” and you may hear an answer emphasizing a past decision, a moment of crisis, or an experience—as if past events were all that mattered. Schaeffer wrote,
“In one way, the new birth is the most important thing in our spiritual lives, because we are not Christians until we have come this way. In another way, however, after one has become a Christian, it must be minimized, in that we should not always have our minds only on our new birth. The important thing after being born spiritually is to live.” (ch. 1)
Yes, we are grateful for the past. We look forward expectantly to the bright future ahead with Christ in His manifest presence. But our present walk with Christ, right now, is the most important moment. Romans 14:17 says, “The kingdom of God is [present tense] … righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
1 John 1:7 reaffirms this emphasis on the present—true spirituality is concerned with walking [present tense] in the light “as He is [present tense] in the light, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, cleanses us [present tense] from all sin.”
Faith—Knowing TransgressionsHarvey Kiekover author
Scripture Reading — Psalm 51
I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. — Psalm 51:3
On Monday nights I visited a woman in the nursing home who had already lived more than a century. With an expectant look and a heartwarming smile, she welcomed me to her half of the room she shared with another resident.
Her mind and memory were sharp, but her hearing was fading. When I spoke loudly and “e-nun-ci-at-ed” clearly, she could catch what I said.
Often as she reminisced about farm life and mothering a large family, I saw a woman of faith and quiet courage. She knew the Lord. She loved Jesus and had devoted herself to serve him.
Before leaving, I would ask her what Bible passage she wanted me to read. She was always ready with her request.
It puzzled me that occasionally she would ask me to read Psalm 51, today’s Scripture reading. This psalm is about recognizing the deepness of our sin and how much we need to be forgiven. I felt a little uncomfortable reading this psalm with her. Why would this godly woman who loved the Lord so consistently ask me to read this psalm?
She would answer, “Because I know my transgressions.” They were real to her. She didn’t minimize sin. It broke her heart—with a repentance that pleases God (v. 17). And God healed her broken heart. He loved her with his forgiving love. He made her whole. She knew his peace and loved him.
Lord, we are sinners in need of a Savior. Thank you for giving us your only Son, Jesus, that we may be forgiven. Amen.