Is God An Unfinished Project?

Several months ago, well, maybe a couple years ago, my wife asked me if I would refinish the Hutch and table I had built for her the first year we were married, 43 years hutch  ago. She wanted it to look more Amish like. She had ideas in her head of what she was looking for. She attempted to describe them to me and tableexpected me to transfer those descriptions to the furniture. I have resisted for a long time and finally unfinished chairdecided to delay no longer.

I am delighted to say that after a few weeks of work on the “almost antique” furniture the project is nearing completion. And I am glad that it no longer falls into the unfinished project category.

chairsFor several months there has been a line of old chairs along the fence in my backyard. They are chairs salvaged from the cleanup and restoration project of our new ministry center. Since last year it has been my intention to begin restoring these chairs and putting them to use. Finally the project is underway. Two chairs to date have been completed and a third is in the restoration pipe line. Though the  chair restoration project has a long ways to go it is at least moving forward.

Do you finish everything you start? I imagine not. And to be honest, some things are worth finishing.

But don’t think, even for a second, that you can put God in your collection of unfinished projects. For starters, he isn’t a “project.” Besides, he’s not going to sit on a shelf contentedly waiting for you to give him your attention once the kids are grown or the retirement is funded or other task are completed.

The Israelites learned that lesson the hard way. They returned from Babylonian captivity to rebuild the temple. They started strong but in time turned their attention to other endeavors. What was important to God became unimportant to them.

16 years past without any work being done on the Temple. So God allowed drought and downturns and difficulties to come upon them. And he said, “give careful thought to your ways” (Haggai 5:7).

God is either the main thing in your life or he is nothing. At the end of the day, each of us are responsible for our own schedule. There is really no such thing as partial obedience. God begins as the priority and then we scheduled time with him and around him. We schedule the things that are important to him. Jesus said, “seek first the kingdom of God…” (Matthew 6:33).

The Jews eventually got back to God’s priorities and took part in one of the greatest works of heaven. You can to. There are some things worth finishing. Get on with it.

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God Needs A Home

god's handIt was perhaps the greatest opportunity ever. God tells Moses that he wants to come to his people and dwell right in the middle of their camp. Not on the outskirts. Not in the ‘burbs. But right in the middle of where they were living.

You might wonder, “What preparations would a people need to make for God to live in their midst?” Would it be like getting ready for weekend guests or someone special coming to dinner? You feel compelled to make sure your home looks as good as possible. You want to make a good impression and you want your guest to feel welcome.

God anticipated the question and told Moses what needed to be in place for his coming. First, he wanted to be close to them but there was the problem of sin that created a breach between them. So God provided Moses with instructions about the practice of sacrificing, offering a covering for the people’s indiscretions before a Holy God. Sin is serious stuff, not to be taken lightly, and the sacrifice of unblemished animals was necessary to give the people a picture of sin.

Second, he wanted to stay close to them. Moses was given the blueprints for the building of the Tabernacle. It’s a big word for “tent.” A portable place of worship. Kind of a mobile Motel 6. And he wanted to camp out right in the middle of where they were camping. God wanted to be close to his people.

But he also wanted them to be close to each other. So he declared a third thing to get ready. He gave them Ten Commandments concerning relationships. The first four commandments focus on how we are to demonstrate our love to God. The second set of six have to do with how to show love to other people. In seeing these relationships of love it was God’s desire that people would come tabernacleto know Him too.

Jesus said the same in John 13:34: “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another. . .  By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

God gave the Israelites guidelines so that, when they sought to live by them, other nations would see them as different and know that they were God’s people. God gave us Jesus so that, when we live like him, others will know that we are his people.

For those who know him, God took care of our sin through the sacrifice of Jesus. He tabernacles in the hearts of those who have drawn near to him. Could it be then that the degree to which we are obedient to him in this command to love each other is the degree of his presence we will find among us? It could be our greatest opportunity ever.

Far more than we would ever dare to ask

amazing thingsCheck this out. “God, who by his mighty power at work within us, is able to do far more than we would ever dare to ask or even dream of-infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes.” Eph 3:20 (TLB) Doesn’t that just blow you away? Doesn’t that stir something within you that wants to see that kind of thing happen? Doesn’t that make you want to know how to see that happen?

Well, here’s the key that unlocks the door to God doing far more than we would ever dare to ask. Are you ready? Hold on! It’s PRAYER. That’s right, prayer. I know, you thought it was going to be some new and profound discovery. No, it’s the same as it has always been, PRAYER.

If that is true, then why don’t we see God doing far more things than we would dare to ask, all the time? Are you ready for that answer? It is because we don’t ask. What do you suppose the most talked about subject in the church setting today is? Prayer! And what is the most talked about issue with Christians? Usually prayer.  Do you have any idea what is the least practiced? You guessed it, prayer. The kingdom of God will not be advanced in our own power. Your spiritual life will not experience any real, long term growth without lots and lots of prayer. God will never do more than we would dare to ask without a vital connection with him in prayer.

So I would say to you, PRAY FIRST.

Make that your approach to life. The first thing I will do is pray. Before I try to come up with a solution, before I seek advice, before I worry or fret or lay awake at night or throw up my hands and quit, I will pray.

What this does is bring the supernatural presence and power of God into every circumstance you face. I don’t know if you have figured this out yet, but God knows a lot more than you do and God can accomplish a lot more than you can. In fact, God can do more and do it better in an instant than I can in my entire life. So why would I not include him first in whatever I am dealing with? It just doesn’t make sense.

When Peter was arrested, in the New Testament book of Acts, chapter 12,  and thrown into prison facing death by execution, what do you think the first thing the other Christians did? They prayed, and prayed and kept on praying. So pray first and then…

Then PRAY OFTEN.

How often? As often as you think about the challenge, need, problem or opportunity. Now, I am not talking about stopping everything you are doing, assume a certain position on your prayer mat and devote lengthy time to praying, kind of prayer. I am talking about wherever you are, whatever you are doing speak it to God.

God thank you for this challenge I am facing. Help me to grow from it.

God, I have a lot going today. Please lead me in everything I do.

God, please give me the divine wisdom to know what to do in this situation.

God, help me to be sensitive to your leading in solving this problem.

God, forgive me for that thought I just had that was totally wrong.

God, help me not to do something irrational with my kids.

Now, there are times when we need to just be still before the Lord and pour our soul out to Him and seek him at length. But there are many times throughout the day when we just need to include him. Talk to him, tell him, seek him, invite him, depend on him.

Well, doesn’t God already know what I need? Doesn’t the Bible say that he even knows my thought? Then why do I need to spend so much time talking to him and telling him? Because, do you know what prayer is? It is declaring your absolute dependence on God. He wants us to declare our dependence on him. We need to declare our dependence on him. So do it and do it often. And then…

And PRAY BELIEVING.

Practically speaking, what good is it to ask if we don’t believe we will get an answer? What good is it to asking if we don’t believe God wants what is best for us? What good is it to ask if we don’t believe God moves and works through the prayers of his people?

Here are the very words of Jesus. This is going to the top. Mark 11:24 “I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”  Believe that it is already on its way.

Let’s wrap it up with some words from  John. Dear friends, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God and receive from him anything we ask , because we obey his commands and do what pleases him.” 1 John 3:21

That means I am not just coming to God like a big Santa in the sky. I don’t look at him as just someone who gives me what I want. I am not bringing my shopping list. I do not believe in this health, wealth and prosperity gospel. “God, I am coming to you with a surrendered heart. I am coming to you with a willingness to back up my life with obedience, with living in a way that is sold out to pleasing you. That is what I want more than anything else in my life.” And, guess what, God honors and gives attention to those kinds of prayers.  God goes far beyond our asking when we come to him as that kind of surrendered, obedient follower.

Celebrations in Baptism, 6/24/2012

Sunday, June 24, was a tremendous day of celebration for Chris and Nereida Glascock and Brent Wolfe as they followed Jesus in baptism for the forgiveness of their sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Each took the step to bury the old self-driven life in baptism and to come forth a new person and life in Christ Jesus. Pictures say it better than words.

Restoration Project

Lately I have been doing a rebuilding project on my barbeque grill. I was thinking that it was going to take just a few hours and I would have a grill that was like new again. But as is often the case, it has turned out to be a month long endeavor.

First I had to clean the grease off of it enough to find out exactly what needed to be replaced. Then I had to locate a parts supplier that actually carried the parts I needed. Extensive internet searches turned up a number of parts options. So I placed the orders and waited for their arrival. However, once they arrived I realized some parts were the wrong size and had to be returned and reordered. Others were constructed a little differently than the originals and had to be installed with modifications to the barbeque itself. Still other parts were out of stock or replacement options were just not satisfactory and had to be returned. All in all it has been a month long project. But finally I have a restored grill that is good to go for several more years.

Do you suppose God has some of the same difficulties when it comes to restoring you to a right relationship with him? Make no mistake about it, you are a restoration project of the Lords. David prayed, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” (Ps 51:12) God wants everyone to experience-daily-the joy of salvation and a spirit that is willing and anxious to obey, serve and honor Him. The problem is that it often takes far longer than anticipated for this to happen. I can think of a few reasons for the delayed progress.

  • Our issues are far deeper than we thought or are willing to admit. In our own shortsightedness, or inflated view of ourselves, we think that we are pretty good and it won’t take us very long at all to restore what might have been lost by wondering away from the Lord. However, once the restoration begins we discover lots of “stuff” that we didn’t even realize existed. So we are forced to go much deeper into our issues to get back to where God wants us to be, in joyful fellowship with him.
  • Other times the problem is our resistance to the restoration project itself. We know what we need to do and who we need to be but we just don’t want to let it happen. We would rather choose the pleasures of sin for a “season” than allow God to get on with the renewal of our hearts and relationship.
  • And still other times the problem is the cultural norm of our day. We are unwilling to go against what everyone else is doing for fear of standing out or being different. The acceptance of others is more important than pleasing God. We just don’t want to be counter cultural, even though Jesus, our leader, was the most counter cultural person who ever lived.

So, whatever the reason or excuse, by the way, an excuse is nothing more than the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie, isn’t it time to get over it and get past it and get on with the restoration project God wants to work in you. Our prayer and desire of our heart should be, “Restore us, O LORD God Almighty; make your face shine upon us, that we may be saved. (Ps 80:19)

Oh, by the way, God will not give up on you or leave you alone until you surrender to His renewal plan. What he starts he finishes. “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:6)

 

James’ Story

Let me paint you a picture of how disgusting sin is and what it does. My best affections for you will have to be put aside because I want you to know God’s truth and how much he really loves you and me. Truly, I was probably the most despicable person I know.

I was born and raised in Richmond, VA. I thought I had a normal upbringing.

My grandfather was very strict. My grandmother talked like a human warning sign. Every word she said was in a harsh, violent and loud tone of voice as if fear would demand obedience. And you know what? For me, it did.

I didn’t get the privilege of doing family activities like eating dinner at a dining table. I wanted to go out and be with friends, but usually the answer was no. My grandparents were so strict that I often times felt like I needed to tiptoe around the house so they couldn’t hear me. I didn’t hate them, but I was afraid. You’ll probably ask, at this point, where my parents were all this time. They worked 6 days a week, 13 hours a day. I couldn’t blame them for anything. They worked all the time and put food on our table. At the end of the week, we’d go to church.

All my mother ever wanted was a good Christian family. She wanted a family. My father, on the other hand, decided he would coast through raising us up. He didn’t teach me much of anything. So, I never really knew what it was like to have a loving father. It wasn’t that my father wasn’t physically there or putting food on the table. It’s that he wasn’t emotionally or spiritually there. My grandfather had my brother and me doing high school level math and other subjects when I was in kindergarten. If I got a question or problem wrong, he would beat us. Who was I to question them? They’re my grandparents, right? When I look back at it now, I ask “Why would my parents allow this?” And then I asked my mother, and she wept because she never even knew. She worked too long and or family never gave her a break so that she could love her kids.

My brother is a very quick-tempered, bitter man today because of what Hebrews 12:15 says: “See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.” He fell victim to the root of bitterness just like I did.

So, this for me was a normal childhood. I had a soft spot for mothers, was confused about fathers, and grandparents at first glance seemed very mean looking. Just kidding about the grandparents. I only meant my own.

I grew up in Presbyterian church. I couldn’t understand what the Pastors were trying to tell me. I never tried to either. Church, for me, was having fun with my friends and trying to be good, but receiving the Word meant, simply, making sure I didn’t fall asleep during the sermon. I mastered the art of coming 90% close to falling asleep during every sermon without going all the way. I think, nowadays, that the reason I loved youth group so much because I just got to be around my friends.

I honestly can’t remember any sermons, yet I went to church every Sunday until high school. That’s a problem especially when you’re like me and claim to be a Christian growing up. But going to church didn’t make me any more Christian than sleeping in a garage will make me a car. I knew Jesus, but I didn’t KNOW Jesus. In my confusion, I figured I’m a Christian because no one told me I wasn’t, and I figured I’ll just be a good person and everything will be okay.

By the time I was in high school, I had enough of church. I was determined for such a long time to try to be nice with people and try to be active in my youth group, but things weren’t going my way. I was so selfish and I wish someone had called me out on it. But no one did, so I turned to the world to go get my way.

I was a pretty good student. I attended my classes and had a lot of respect for my teachers. I wanted to do well academically and eventually find a college to go to. I studied and worked very hard in my junior and senior year and eventually landed a scholarship to an art school in Arlington, Virginia.

Until college, I’d never been to a party, tasted alcohol, smoked a cigarette or done drugs. I figured that made me a pretty good kid. However, I was also socially awkward. Having moved to a new city, I didn’t know anyone and so I decided I’d force myself out of my comfort zone and get to know people and learn how to be social. This took a couple years, but I made some friends. I still kept to myself most of the time, however, and I also prided myself for never having tasted alcohol or done drugs. I did, however, have my first drink of whiskey at age 22.

Everything seemed great on the outside, but on the inside I was really giving in to some of the worst temptations our Bible talks about. Our Bible calls giving into temptations ‘sinning’. It’s a disease that lives in all of us and causes us to fall short of the glory of God. Sometimes, we look at this ‘sin’ in our lives and we put them on a chart and say “these are little ones I have that aren’t that big of a deal” and “these are definitely a lot bigger, but as long as I hide them nobody will know…”

So, let me paint that picture of my sins. And I’m doing this because you really need to know how much God really loves us, so much to save the terrible, despicable person that I was.

I remember myself at my worst, mostly in recent years.

When I was 19, I’d slept with a woman for the first time causing her to cheat on her boyfriend and after I told her that I didn’t love her she painfully acted as if it was her fault. And I stood there and did nothing. This has happened at least 2 more times, once to a single mother.

In my early 20’s, I felt so much anxiety, depression, and bitterness growing all on top of this crazy sense of entitlement as if the world owed me something. I was so full of myself, I didn’t even stop to think of my mother’s needs when she was in the first stages of her separation from my father. She worked in her own store in Blackwell for over 20 years and has been robbed at gunpoint 6 times. Instead of seeing that she’d be okay by helping her at her store, I allowed her to work there by herself and went on acting like everything would be just fine because I wanted to chase money more than I wanted to look after my dysfunctional family.

At 24, I found a new church to start going to. Everything about it was cool. I thought it changed my life, but really I know now it was just my ‘drug’ to make everything I was doing seem okay. As long as I was going to church and participating in outreach, it could balance out all the evil thoughts and deeds I committed. I just wanted to be in the limelight and allow everyone to look at me as if I was someone important and special. I remember even getting on that stage and sharing a testimony about forgiveness and having people come to me and tell me how much of a blessing I was. But I was just one big lie. And I was being a big lie in front of God and his people.

I even ended up working at that same church by age 25. I wanted to be with the coolest looking good guys. That is until it started not working out for me. I didn’t want to help other people. I just wanted selfish gain. I wanted to be in charge. I even got baptized there because other people were doing it and I figured it would be ‘cool’ for me to do it, too, and say I got baptized. Anytime I prayed, it was only because I needed a miracle and not because I wanted Jesus.

I left that church after working there only 5 months. I couldn’t take how much good I had to do and just wanted to do bad. I started drinking more heavily and made plenty of drinking buddies, too. Soon, I had my own posse of friends I could drink several nights a week with and go to strip clubs and throw away money and tell the whole world I was finally living the good life.

That is until one day I made a friend in someone I became so infatuated with. I wanted everything this person had. Everything about this person just seemed so good. This person was so in love with Jesus, it was sickening. I wanted to fill my void so much with the love this person had for Jesus, but the sin in me just kept rejecting it and rejecting it.

As I’d sit on my couch alone at night opening my 9th, 10th, 11th, 12th can of beer I’d be angry and sick and then laughing to myself like I was going crazy or something. The only advice I’d get about life were from other friends who were on their 13th, 14th, 15th, and 16th can of beer. I looked at my life and realized I had become the king of my own drunken, lawless land. Filthy, full of wickedness, and going down a long road straight to hell.

Finally, I thought to myself that I would start calling the good Christian friends I used to have and get some good Christian advice. I knew this was what I needed, but unfortunately none of them were available. Everyone had moved. I know now that God had closed all the doors and put me in a woodshed with just me and Him, but at the time all I could think was “I’m all alone.”

Getting deeper and deeper into my disgusting little world, I thought about my whole life and asked myself “In five years, do I want to be a sicker, older version of myself today? Or do I want to be someone I never dreamed I could be?”

Could I be a loving father? Even find a good wife and be a loving husband to her? Could I do what it takes to restore relationships with my family? To finally be able to give my mother the Bible Studies she told me she prayed we’d have together. To finally be able to start a real relationship with my brother. To forgive my father for leaving my mother and even have a relationship with him?

I looked at all these things and I decided one lonely night on September 4th, 2011, and I got down on my knees at my bedside and cried out loudly to God and prayed as loud as I could “God! I can’t do this alone anymore! Why?! Why do I have to feel this way?! I don’t want this anymore! I need you!! I need you!!”

And that night came and went. But, that night, God said “James, I love you. I love you so much. You turned your back on me for all those years. You cursed my name. Through your actions and your sin, you told me you didn’t want anything to do with me. You hurt my children, too. So many times, I called out to you but you wouldn’t answer. What did I do to deserve this from you, James? But, now you’ve called out to me and I’m here for you, James, like the loving father you never had. I love you so much and I want you to be my child. Welcome home.”

With the many awful things I’ve done in my life, I knew I absolutely deserved the hell God tells us we deserve for our evil ways. But God, being a loving and gracious God, thought little me should be saved. How gracious is our God? That when I cried out to him, he was there.

That night, my life changed. I repented from my old ways and literally my life turned completely around. The things I used to want: money, sex, alcohol, selfish gain. These were all literally replaced by my new love for God, love for his word, and wanting to live for God’s will for my life. I truly don’t feel the same. A veil was lifted from my eyes, as if I was blinded before, but now I can finally see. The Bible, His Living Word, has become truly real and alive to me. It’s hard to explain. Imagine passing out and a doctor puts the paddles to your chest and zaps you back to life. That’s the feeling. When I seek something with all my heart from God, he has ALWAYS answered my prayer through his Word, the Bible. God’s also given me a real purpose in serving his will for my life. My prayer life is amazing not because I pray everyday but because I’m literally praying all the time by just talking to God.

God has taught me how to live in relationship with my family, friends, and others all around me. Jesus in me has taught me to be slow to anger, to stop being anxious, and always do my best to treat those around me how a loving family member would.

God has shown me that all the doubts, worries, anxiety, and uncertainties that I had were never from him but from Satan. This is a huge problem in our society. A lot of us are becoming lost in our thoughts thinking we will never make it, we will always fail, we will never be loved, we should just kill ourselves. The last of those led my friend to suicide this past week. She loved Jesus so much and with all the problems in her life, Satan finally convinced her to kill herself. And he’s laughing. Do you see why I hate sin so much?

When Satan claims one of our own, I look at it now as a personal attack to my family. Here’s the truth: God has shown me that he wants me to have joy in the Lord and peace. He LOVES ME like a loving Father loves his child. JESUS LOVES ME and wants a relationship with ME and YOU. That love isn’t just something we feel or say, but that it’s something we do through sacrificing our own lives, like Jesus did for us on the cross, for the sake of the ones we love. But Satan is really real and we need to build each other up together to shield ourselves from his attacks.

New Venture is my new family and because God has shown me grace and how he loves me, I feel a sense of duty to love my new family and be there for them and try to be as good of a servant as I can be. I’ve joined two Bible studies and never want to miss a gathering or event. I want to keep building my character because in 2 Peter it tells us that if we build our character, it makes us more effective and productive in our knowledge of Jesus Christ.

I, like all of us, was dead in my sins. I deserved to die for my sin. And because of my sin, there was nothing I could do to connect myself to God because he cannot be where sin is. He’s too holy and good. But how awesome is it that he loves us so much that he sent his son Jesus (his son!) to die for me and you. He loves you so much, he wants you and me to spend eternity with him in heaven. Before I get there, I want to do what God calls us to do and bring a little bit of heaven down to earth. God has put a big desire in my heart to serve through New Venture. And through New Venture, I personally believe we can change the hearts of our community and really bring Steve’s vision full circle by changing Midlothian. How? By doing it together for Jesus.

Now, I can’t wait to be baptized because my Bible tells me to be baptized and wash away my sins. All the wickedness I ever did and will ever do will all be washed away

Quiet Time Obstacles

Definition: A quiet time is a daily time I set aside to be alone with God to get to know Him and His will through the Bible and prayer.

Nothing, I say nothing is more vital to your spiritual growth than the time you spend alone with God in Scripture and prayer. However, nothing is neglected or opposed more by Satan than our quiet time with God. Here are some of the obstacles you can expect and some solutions to them.

THE PROBLEM OF DISCIPLINE

Your first problem in establishing a quiet time will face you the moment you wake each morning:  Am I going to get out of bed?  (“The Battle of the Blankets”) Am I going to get out of bed a little earlier and spend the time with God or just lay here for a little longer? The devil will always exaggerate how tired you are. And when the devil and your flesh come together you have a potent combination to keep you from your quiet time. You need to have first DESIRE, “I want to meet with God.” Then DECISION, “I’m going to meet with God.” Then DETERMINATION/DISCIPLINE to get out of bed.

Suggestions:

1.  Go to bed on time. A rule to follow: if what I am doing at 10:00 the night before is more important than my quiet time then stay up.

2.  Get up immediately. The battle is usually won or lost in the first few seconds. Hesitate and you will be defeated.

3.  Be aware of quiet time robbers. 90% of them happen the night before. They are named Jay or David. Late night TV is the #1 robber of quiet time.

THE PROBLEM OF DISTRACTIONS

Satan will try to use anything to get your mind to wander during a quiet time. Never try to have a quiet time in bed. An hour later you will wake up with your Bible on your chest and think, “Oh, how spiritual.”

Suggestions:

1.  Get out of bed.

2.  Get thoroughly awake. Get coffee, run around the room, give yourself the Aqua Velva slap.

3.  Read and pray out loud.  If you need to for concentration.

4.  Walk during your prayer time. You never fall asleep walking. It even has a double benefit, builds soul and body at the same time. I love to walk and pray.

5.  Keep a notepad nearby.  The devil may try to bring up all kinds of things that you don’t need to forget. Stop where you are and write it down. “Don’t forget to pick up the kids at school. Don’t forget you left the eggs boiling on the stove.” Better go take care of that one.

THE PROBLEM OF DRYNESS

Sometimes you will feel like you’re not getting anything out of your quiet time.  (“The Battle of the Blahs”) Never judge your quiet time by your feelings. Emotions come and go. You may have just had a bad pizza the night before. If I only have a quiet time when I feel like it the devil will make sure I never feel like it. In fact, when I don’t feel like it that is when I need it the most. Right feelings follow right actions. Do the right thing consistently and the feelings will follow, not VV.

Possible Causes of Spiritual Dryness:

1.  Your physical condition. You are not rested. Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is go to bed.

2.  Disobedience to God. There may be habitual sin in your life and God is not going to show you something new until you have acted on what he has already shown you.

3.  Rushing your quiet time. Samuel Chadwick, “Hurry is the death of prayer.”

4.  Getting in a rut. Doing the same thing in the same way every time. When your quiet time gets in a rut you will lose your desire for it. Vary it. Change locations. Read a different place in the Bible besides the reading schedule. Change it up, you don’t have to stick to the SOAP formula every time. This is just a guide. It is to help you get started. Change it up.

5.  Not sharing insights with others. If you don’t give out what God has given you, you will dry up. Like the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea. One receives and gives out, the other receives and keeps. For me I begin by posting a scripture from the day on facebook so I can share with others what has spoken to me.

THE PROBLEM OF DILIGENCE

Your greatest problem will be your struggle to stay consistent.  I find Satan fights nothing harder than my quiet time. I have been a Christian for 48 years and a pastor for 41 and it is still true. Satan doesn’t fight me on anything else as much as my consistent daily time with God. Because he knows that’s where the power is.

Suggestions:

1.  Make a covenant or vow to God. That you are going to give this the priority of your daily schedule.

2.  Schedule it on your daily calendar. On your “to do” list write “quiet time.”

3.  Be prepared for Satan’s excuses. He knows if he can keep you out of the Word then he has you defeated and not developing or dropping your quiet time is usually one of the first steps into backsliding. So he is going to give you all kinds of excuses.

By the way, if you get up in the morning and you don’t meet the devil head on it very well might mean that the two of you are traveling in the same direction. Expect it. Realize as soon as your feet hit the floor, or before, the devil is scheming to keep you out of the Word and away from God.

WHAT IF I MISS A DAY?

Don’t get on a guilt trip. Don’t keep putting yourself down.

Don’t get legalistic. “On no, I missed my quiet time. My entire world is going to fall apart.” We live by grace. Confess it and go on living.

Most of all, don’t give up. How many of you have ever missed a meal? What did you do? “I can’t be consistent. I’m just not going to eat anymore.” No! But with our quiet time we are inclined to say, “If I can’t be consistent I’m just not going to try and do it.” If you miss you just pick up with the corresponding day’s reading and catch up what you missed at the end. Don’t be blown away by missing a quiet time.

 

It takes three weeks for you to become familiar with a new task.  Then it takes another three weeks before it becomes a comfortable habit. Most people have never made it past the six week barrier of having a quiet time and so no wonder they aren’t consistent and as a result have never come to know the beauty and value of daily time alone with God.

Don’t give up! If you do the Devil gets the victory.

(Adapted from Purpose Driven material.)