Tag Archives: quiet times

Revolutionized Quiet Times!

I hate to admit it, but in the past few years the bible study part of my quiet time has become a chore for me. I love spending time in worship and I love writing out my prayers along with the answers I perceive in my heart (many that come straight from the Word), but I have become completely bogged down when it comes to bible study. Maybe it’s because of all my seminary training– I think I have to do a formal exegesis of every passage. Maybe it’s because of some of the intensive discipleship classes I’ve done. One even had us diagraming every sentence like I did in 9th grade English class. Bottom line is that somewhere along the line, my formal time in the Word became too formal, and lost its life. Sure I have found myself completely blessed by passages of scripture in spite of myself. He has continued to use the Word hidden in my heart to speak to me regularly, but recently I realized that I have allowed myself to become legalistic about studying the bible. God forbid! There’s nothing I hate more than legalism. I have to say that lately he has been breathing fresh grace into my life in every area, so I’m so glad that he is shining the light on this area now. Yes, there are times for intensive study, but I do not think that should the basis of our daily quiet time.

Recently, I was introduced to the book Divine Mentor by Wayne Cordeiro. It was exactly what I needed. Cordeiro says that rather than trying to analyze every verse its better to ask God to give you just one scripture or one thought that you can carry away for the day. It’s a lesson I’ve been learning in business. When I have team meetings, I realize that if I try to give my folks too much info, they seem overloaded and the meetings are not that productive. A business coach suggested I stick to one main topic, and since I started that things are much better. It makes great sense to approach scripture in a similar fashion, with the heart attitude of “What do you want to teach me today Lord?” Since I have been doing it, he has been faithful to show me something special every day. I always tell people that scripture is God’s love letter to us, and as such we need to seek something from God’s heart for us daily. Again, I am not putting down intensive study! Failing to learn about the background or context of a book can be a dangerous thing. You should study the Bible intensely, but not to the point that you lose your passion. So for me, this approach is a breath of fresh air. I am going to my Heavenly Father seeking fresh bread for the day, and I am no longer getting bogged down. It fits the idea of a quiet time much better, because it’s part of my special time with God. I no longer feel obligated to exegete every passage, but rather I am seeking my Father’s heart. I am taking the exegesis out of my quiet times unless the Lord prompts me otherwise. I can’t tell you what a blessing and a relief doing it this way has become for me.

Cordeiro uses the acronym SOAP– Scripture, Observation, Application, & Prayer as a guide for this method. He suggests you journal the lesson you get each day. Here is how mine looked today. Note: I had one main thought rather than one verse of scripture, but that happens most days for me. Hopefully, if you’re feeling the same way, this approach will help you revitalize your scripture study too.

Scripture— Genesis 41

When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream (41:1)

Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. (41:9)

Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” (41:15-16)

So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” (41:41) 

Observation: It seemed as though Joseph’s suffering continued because of people. First, he had been betrayed and sold into slavery because of his brothers’ jealousy, and then he was falsely accused and imprisoned because of Potiphar’s wife. Even after he had proven himself by interpreting the dream of pharaoh’s cupbearer, he continued to be unjustly imprisoned, because the cupbearer got released and forgot him. It seemed as though people were in control of Joseph’s fate. However, what if Joseph had been released 2 years earlier? What if he had not been sold into slavery, and what if he had not been imprisoned? He would not have been available to pharaoh when he had his dreams. God’s timing was perfect, even though it seemed that people were jerking Joseph around. If he had never been sold, his whole family would have perished in the famine. If he had not been in pharaoh’s prison at the time of his dreams, he would not have been able to help save the whole region. The interesting thing is that during his time, he never lost his faith in God. Perhaps the trials even strengthened it. When pharaoh gave him credit for knowing how to interpret dreams, he was quick to turn the credit back to God. He could do nothing, but God would.

Application: Joseph could have easily become bitter and angry with God during this time. After all, many injustices had occurred. He had every right to be upset. His circumstances just weren’t fair, but he continued to entrust himself to God. As it turns out, God’s timing was perfect. Joseph did not get puffed up with pride about the injustices, but he turned to God. This verse comes to mind. “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time” (1 Pet. 5:6). God’s due time is rarely when we think it should be. One of my pastors once said, “I have never known God to be early, but I’ve also never known him to be late.” His timing is always perfect, and we must trust that in his time he will use everything for his good intentions (Gen. 50:20). Many times in my life I have questioned why bad things have happened. I have wished I could go back and do something differently so the outcome would be different. I have wished that I could control it all. I have lamented that people were jerking me around, and yet when I look back, I see very clearly how God was using it for good in my life. No, being abused was not good. Being betrayed by loved ones was not good, but as I entrusted myself to God in each situation, he was so faithful to use all the bad for good. I have a relationship with him that I wouldn’t trade for the entire world. He has been completely faithful in it all. When I look back at the worst of times, they were also the best of times spiritually. Jesus held me and spoke to my wounded heart in the most awful circumstances. Those experiences have been amazing tutors that have worked together for good in my life, and in the lives of those God sends my way (Rom. 8:28). I have learned to stop asking why these days, and instead ask, “God, what do you want to teach me in this?” He always shows me, and in due time, he always lifts me back up. What an amazing God we serve!

Prayer: Oh sweet Lord, how I thank you that your ways are higher than mine! I thank you that even when I cannot see any good in a given situation, your plans cannot be thwarted, and you will work it together for good in your perfect timing. I do not have to stress. I do not have to become indignant when people seem to be treating me unfairly, or when circumstances don’t seem fair. I can trust you! You are utterly faithful, and you see the whole picture. Thank you for always being right on time! Amen

Still Waters…

Father, I am amazed at how easily distracted I am. It’s ridiculous really. I guess part of it is life in the modern world, because honestly I don’t remember struggling this much before the days of smart phones and computers. I suppose the answer is to put them away, and carve out the time, or to rise much, much earlier so there won’t be interruptions. Either way, it is time for a change. It’s time to stop talking about it, and start doing it. I ordered the book on time management, and haven’t had time to read it! Oh my, You are so patient with me, and I so appreciate that, but I also know You are calling me out, and into obedience. Help me learn how to quiet my soul. Lead me by the still waters and let me drink from the streams of living waters today. I am parched. Let me drink freely without distraction, knowing that You are with me. Then let me lie down in green pastures as You restore my soul. It gets so beat up in this world. Thank You for times of refreshing.  Amen

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (Jn. 10:27). Do not let the noise of this world drown out my voice. You have my Spirit, which means you have everything you need for victory. I will always lead you in triumph so that you will manifest the sweet aroma of the knowledge of God to a dying world (2 Cor. 2:14). That is why you must be diligent to listen for my voice and follow my leading rather than the multitude of other voices that call out for your attention. When you fail, do not waste time in self-condemnation, but come humbly in repentance and let me hold you in my arms. I do not condemn, I restore. I bore your condemnation on the cross; so do not take it up again. Little one, you are mine—fully loved and precious in my sight. Never let anything keep you from running to Me. Come now, sit beside the still waters and find rest for your weary soul. There is healing here in my presence. The world inflicts damage on your soul daily, but a moment in my presence can repair it. Come and drink freely. Rest in my love. That is all you need in this moment. Let go the cares of this world, and gaze on the beauty of the Lord. Let me hide you in the shelter of my wing as you go through your day so the blows of life will not hurt you. I will take them for you. Learn to abide in Me my child. It will come as you fix your gaze on Me.  Turn your eyes on Me, and come.

 

Walking & Running with Him

Lord, this morning I come to You discouraged. All my best-laid plans seem to fail.  All I can think to say is “Help!” Life swallows me up from day to day, and I feel so useless for your kingdom– like all my attempts are small and feeble. I feel like a hamster on a wheel, constantly spinning and never going anywhere. Teach me to abide in Your presence in spite of life. I know it is possible to walk victoriously even in the midst of busyness, but when the details of life start piling up, and I find myself not being able to get to everything I stress. Even now, my mind wants to dwell on the long “to-do” list that stands ever before me. I feel guilty when I take time from work for personal things, and it even seems like I can’t afford to take quiet time with You. But I know that is so untrue. It is my quiet time with You that keeps me from being utterly defeated. I do find You in many ways from day to day. Today I ask that You would make me more aware of the spiritual side to every task and conversation. I know that can happen, because I have been there before. I know much of it stems from a heart of worship, so now I bow before You and praise You with all I have and all I am.

My dear child, why do you fret about things You cannot control. You are only responsible for the things I call you to do, not the outcome. I am in control of that, and you must trust Me for it. Do not despise the day of small things (Zec. 4:10). Remember, I rarely begin things with pomp and circumstance. That is the way the world would do it, but I use humble beginnings. I chose a shepherd boy to defeat a giant and rule Israel. I chose lowly fishermen to bring my message to the world. My first moments of life in the flesh happened in manger with Mary, Joseph, and a handful of lowly shepherds. There were angels all around, but not everyone saw them—even as you do not see everything that is happening in the unseen realm now. Trust and obey. My timing is perfect, and can never be rushed. Wait on Me, and you will not be disappointed. In the interim, learn the lessons that come in waiting.

Remember that you live and move and have your being in Me (Ac. 17:28). Stop striving, and rest in that knowledge. I will keep you in perfect peace as you keep your mind stayed on Me (Is. 26:3). Remember when your children were little? They ran in circles around you, but you were still there with them watching, and delighting as they learned about the world around them. They made you laugh sometimes, and other times they upset you, but you were there side-by-side walking through it together. They weren’t constantly looking at you, but they knew you were there and looked up to share new discoveries, pains, and thrills. Do the same with Me, my daughter. I delight in you, and am not nearly as upset about the busyness as you are. As you know, I could remove it today, but I choose to use it to mold you into a more useable vessel. Walk and run with Me. Share your new discoveries, your pains, and your joys with Me. Let me use this time for good. It will not always be this way, but in each and every circumstance you must learn to be content before moving to the next (Ph. 4:11). Wait, trust, and rejoice in Me as we walk through this time together. I love you. 

Quiet Times in the Technological Age

POSTED ON DECEMBER 11, 2013 BY JOY FORREST

Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. 1 John 2:15-17 NLT

Lord, this world constantly frustrates me, and some days I think my age makes it worse. I remember simpler times and long for them. Solomon said there is nothing new under the sun, but I think in these last days technology is an exception to that statement. I love it and hate it. I sit here typing on my computer, because it’s so much easier to correct mistakes, and easier to pull up study resources for Bible study, yet in the midst of it the interruptions never cease. It’s so easy to remember something that needs to be added to the calendar, and of course there are continuous notifications from email, messages, and Facebook. I know I could turn them off, but then I might forget to turn them back on and miss something important—it’s almost like slavery. I think it’s made our whole society A.D.D. It certainly adds to the challenge of meditation in the modern world. Still, when I think about it, You had constant interruptions too. People followed You around and crowded You constantly, but You took the time to withdraw to “remote” places and spend time in prayer. Even though there are new forms of distraction, I know that if anyone ever understood distraction You do. You were tempted in every way, yet didn’t sin. On the other hand, I sin daily as I allow unimportant things to eclipse essential things. Thank You so much for Your grace and mercy towards me. I ask You to help me to seek Your face wholeheartedly, and to rest in Your presence. Quiet the constant “demands” that fill my mind, and let me see Your beauty. Without You I am hopeless and constantly frazzled. Yet, You offer peace if I will just take time to tap into it.

I keep thinking that one-day life will slow down, and times of meditation will happen more easily, but I think I am just fooling myself. It will never be easy until I see Your face. Once again, it boils down to self-disciple until I get into Your presence, and meet me with all the strength and peace I need. Life is short, so I need to stop making excuses and make habits instead. What a privilege it is to have the Lord of life standing ready to meet with me and equip me daily. Why in the world do I fail to apply this wonderful benefit so often? Please forgive me, and thank You for always answering when I call, in spite of my weaknesses.

My precious child, remember that my strength is made perfect in your weakness. Therefore, you need not lament over it. Rather rejoice in the knowledge that I have used and continue to use imperfect “jars of clay” for my purposes. Look at Scripture and you will find numerous examples my ability shining best in the lives of imperfect people. Even the most powerful saints had moments of extreme weakness. Remember, Elijah’s great victory at Mt Carmel was followed by an episode of extreme cowardice. David strayed, and yet was a man after my own heart. Even though Jeremiah knew me as the Living Water, he often struggled with despair. Paul and Barnabas separated after a sharp dispute, and Peter, well you know all about Peter. Why do you think these things are recorded in My Word? It is because I want you to know that I can use anyone. Yes, I desire your worship and the sacrifice of self-disciple, but be very careful about how you approach it. It can easily become the goal rather than a means to the goal. The goal is to abide in Me. Remembering who I am and meditating on my attributes will best achieve that. Set your mind on things above. Take joy in my great love for you, and you will find the focus and peace you desire. Nothing is too difficult for Me.