063 – Awesome QuietTimes
How would you like to take your prayer life and Bible Study to a higher level than you have ever experienced before? How would you like to feel like your time with God was deeper, more intimate, more vibrant, and authentic? That would be awesome, right? Photo by Michael Krahn on Unsplash In this lesson, you are going to learn two blow-away secrets that will absolutely change the way you pray and the results you experience! Let’s go! All good relationships are based on two things; time together and communication. Our relationship with God is no exception. If we want a rich, real relationship with God, then, we spend quality time with Him by reading His Word and Praying. These two specific activities can be a pretty good barometer of how well we are doing spiritually. When someone is not spending time with God in Prayer and Bible Study, they are neglecting the most important relationship a human being can have. To have a great relationship with God, we need to have great QuietTimes! What is a QuietTime? As always, let’s begin by defining our terms. What is a QuietTime? As the name suggests, it is a time which is quiet. There are no noises to distract us, there are no electronic devices incessantly beeping, there are no other people around and the environment is somewhat protected from interruption. It is a time we spend alone, communicating with God in prayer and allowing Him to communicate with us through his word and through the thoughts and ideas which stir our hearts and our imaginations during these times. Communication flows in two directions; to God and from God. Our communication to God is done through our prayers. We tell Him what is on our heart. We share our hopes, our dreams and our hardships with Him. We let Him know what is going on with us and we offer up adoration, gratitude and requests for ourselves and for others. Basically, we lay our hearts bare before the Creator of the Universe in the hope He will hear us and respond favorably. And, God does respond. God’s Communication to Us God communicates to us in a variety of ways. During our time alone with him, He communicates with us through His word and those random thoughts which come to mind… that quiet still voice we all have in our head and heart. At other times, God may use another person to tell us something we need to hear.. Perhaps He may provide an experience, dramatic or mundane, which makes us pause and reflect. So, God uses four channels of communication as He is working with us: The Word, A person, An experience and that little voice in our head and heart. Which one would you place at the top of the list as the most trusted and reliable? Obviously, The Word! We don’t completely ignore advice we receive from another person, an experience or our inner voice. We take all of these into account; carefully weighting everything in the light of Scripture. Everything must be filtered through that lens. We must never depend solely on our little inner voice! And an experience is not reliable because your interpretation of the experience is just as good as mine. The two interpretations can differ wildly. People’s advice, opinions and teachings are just that…. their opinion and their teaching, not necessarily what God desires. You must make the final evaluation and your conclusions must be in harmony with the scriptures. So, having a quality time with God is based, primarily on that special alone time where we meet with God in His Word and in prayer; time together and communication. What is Prayer? So, what is prayer? What are we doing when we pray? Let’s turn to some scriptures to help us define this term. Exodus 19:17“Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.” Back in the day, the people “met” with God. He appeared to them in a pillar of fire at night and a pillar of smoke by day. This is probably where the term “Holy smokes” originated! Here’s what King David had to say about meeting with God. Psalm 42:2“My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When can I go and meet with God?” In prayer, we are literally meeting with God! That is amazing! A lowly human being can speak to the creator of the universe. And guess what? God wants us to do this! Remember? “Ask, Seek and Knock.” Matthew 7:9. And, “This, then, is how you should pray: “ ‘Our Father in heaven,” Matthew 6:9. And how about Luke 18:1 “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.” Without question, God wants to hear from us. Come to think of it, what loving Father would not want to hear from his kids? What is Bible Study? If prayer is how we communicate with God, what is the other half of the activity? What is “Bible Study?” Just that… a study of the Bible. But what is study? Let’s turn to our old friend Daniel Webster and his amazing 1828 dictionary. Listen to this. “Study is the literal setting of the mind and thoughts upon a subject for the purpose of learning what was not known before. Study gives strength to the mind, conversations and grace. When we study, we give attention to and meditation on an issue. To study is to fix the mind closely upon a subject, to muse; to dwell upon in thought and endeavor diligently. Studying is done by reading or examining something for the purpose of learning and understanding. It is to consider something attentively and examine it closely.” So if we couple this with “Bible Study” it imparts to us greater knowledge, understanding and wisdom regarding God’s nature and the nature of his creation… including ourselves. So, a QuietTime is composed of two deliberate and distinct disciplines; prayer and Bible Study. Our QuietTime is literally a time we meet with God and without question, it will be the most important meeting you will have on any given day! No other meeting can possibly compare to meeting with the creator of the Universe. But there is one little problem with this kind of meeting. We can get super distracted very quickly. Let me explain. Destroying Distractions All of those random thoughts tend to make us feel burdened. It feels like they pull us totally off the track. But the feeling of pressure does not come from an overwhelming sense of all the things we have to do. Listen carefully! The pressure we feel, comes from an overwhelming sense of trying to remember everything! A thought pops into our head… which may be very valuable to us… we don’t want to forget it… and… the pressure’s on! The First Secret Here’s the first secret to having an amazing time with God. What would happen if we took some paper and a pen into our meeting with the Lord? It’s obviously a pretty important meeting, right? If your boss called you into a meeting, what would you do? How would you prepare? Well, you’d probably take a pen, some paper for taking notes, right? When we take that note pad and pen with us into our meeting with God we have just armed ourselves with an incredibly powerful tool. Every time a random thought comes into your head, jot it down and tell God “Thank you for reminding me. I will take care of that for you!” All of a sudden, random thoughts become reminders from God. By taking notes like this, we literally begin building a divinely inspired to-do list of sorts! Instead of struggling to remember stuff, we write it down. God knows your schedule before you do and reminds you of all the cool things he wants you to accomplish today. You respectfully jot it down and thank God for the reminder. This one little action does something amazing. I earns you the right and ability to forget about it. You no longer need to worry about trying to remember all the things you have on your mind. Once you commit a thought to paper, the pressure is gone! This is an absolutely liberating life hack. And after all, isn’t that what prayer is all about; God giving you information and reminding you to do things he is concerned about, probably more that you are? I cannot tell you how absolutely liberating it is to have a note pad and pen next to me while I am on my knees praying. All of those seeming crazy random thoughts are processed down into a wonderful task list making my relationship with God even more personal, real and vibrant. Try it! It will set you free! The Second Secret Obviously, the best time to do this activity is in the morning. Let’s get our day started on the right foot; meet with God and get our marching orders for the day. So, does the Bible say anything about having a QuietTime in the morning? Yep, in a huge way. And this is our Second Secret! Wait until you hear this! Now, before we get there, let me pave the path with a Biblical concept which will be important to this part of the lesson. I want to talk about an interesting Biblical principle called, “foreshadowing.” What is Foreshadowing? Foreshadow means “to have a warning or indication of a future event.” The Bible is full of these things. Here’s an example. The Foreshadow of Baptism1 Peter 3:17-22Talking about Jesus, Peter writes, “He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also…” So, God saved some people in the days of Noah when the Ark was being built. The Bible says, “In it,” meaning the Ark, “only a few people were saved.” What happened? People were saved. By what? By the Ark. Yes, but also by the water. What did the Ark do? It saved the people who obeyed God and got in it from the deadly waters of the flood. Peter identifies the water of the flood as a “foreshadow.” He says, “This water symbolizes baptism.” Which water? The water of the flood. Is baptism a symbol of the flood? No, the flood is a pre-symbol or a foreshadow of baptism. What did the water of the flood do? It wiped out all human life but it also did something quite amazing of which it foreshadows even more, it wiped away the sin of the world! What happens during Baptism? God wipes away sin. Why does He do this? Because we have heard the Gospel and made that final decision to obey it by being baptized. We are saved when we obey just as the people who obeyed Noah were saved. Noah’s flood illustrates what would come in the future. The Foreshadow of the ChurchHere’s another one. I recently heard this one from my Pastor friend, Tom. In the Garden, God gives Adam an amazing and wonderful gift, a beautiful wife! How did he do this? He put the man into a deep sleep, opened his side, removed something, closed the wound and woke Adam to experience his wonderful new bride. In the New Testament, God puts Christ into a deep sleep (Death}, opens his side, removes something and wakes him up three days later to experience his amazing bride, the church! The Old Testament was rigid like bone, The Law; The New Testament is put into effect with Water and Blood. Cool! Ok, now that we understand what foreshadowing is, here’s the foreshadowing that relates to the subject of QuietTimes… our daily time with God. This is a long passage but there is a huge pay off… wait for it! The Foreshadow of the MannaExodus 16:11-21“The LORD said to Moses, ‘I have heard the grumbling of the Israelites. Tell them, ‘At twilight you will eat meat, and in the morning you will be filled with bread. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God.’ That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, ‘What is it?’ For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, ‘It is the bread the LORD has given you to eat. This is what the LORD has commanded: ‘Each one is to gather as much as he needs. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.’ The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. And when they measured it by the omer, he who gathered much did not have too much, and he who gathered little did not have too little. Each one gathered as much as he needed. Then Moses said to them, ‘No one is to keep any of it until morning.’ However, some of them paid no attention to Moses; they kept part of it until morning, but it was full of maggots and began to smell. So Moses was angry with them.” So, here’s what was happening. Each morning everyone gathered as much food as he needed for the day. When the sun grew hot, this “Food from God” melted away. It was no longer available. If you tried to hoard it, it would rot by the next morning. As the KJV says, “It stinkith.” These then were the rules you had to follow if you were hungry: 1 – God provided the food in the morning. 2 – The food from God had to be collected daily. 3 – Manna had to be collected before the sun grew hot. 4 – The food was spoiled and unusable if it was held over until the next day. Now, flash forward and watch this closely as Jesus makes a stunning claim… Jesus is the Foreshadowed MannaJohn 6:30-38“So they asked him, ‘What miraculous sign then will you give that we may see it and believe you? What will you do? Our forefathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written: ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’ Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.’ ‘Sir,’ they said, ‘from now on give us this bread.’ Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life.’” (Wow, Jesus just identified himself as manna!) If Jesus is the manna we should probably assume the pattern for enjoying it is the same: 1 – God provides the food in the morning. 2 – It should be collected daily, if you are hungry. 3 – We must collect this food in the morning before the sun grows hot. 4 – Don’t try to be sustained the second day by yesterday’s food. So, our second secret, in taking our time with God to the next level, is found in the time of day we meet with God. Without question, the Bible specifically and in no uncertain terms, claims there is a best time for this activity. Let me show you even more! The Reasons for a Morning QuietTime Why should we have a QuietTime in the morning? Here are seven solid reasons. 1 – Because that’s when Jesus did it.Mark 1:35-38 “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.” 2 – “First Fruits!” These were an essential part of worshiping God in the Old Testament. When you collected your harvest, you gave God the very first part of it. Since many things in the Old Testament foreshadow the realities of the New Testament, compare the Old Testament first fruits as “worship of God” to your daily worship of God. Give God the first part of your day. Give God the best part of your day. Now, don’t tell me you are not a morning person. You’ll see why in a moment. Here’s a passage regarding “First Fruits.” Proverb 3:9Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the first fruits of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine. This scripture teach us to enter the land with first fruits, not leftovers. Your time with the Lord is like entering holy ground. Don’t squeeze it in to your day. Make it a priority! 3 – Morning is God’s time to examine you!Job 7:17-18“What is man that you make so much of him, that you give him so much attention, that you examine him every morning and test him every moment? 4 – David set an example for us. Morning is when David laid his requests to God and God listened. Psalm 5:3“In the morning, O LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.” Psalm 88:13“But I cry to you for help, O LORD; in the morning my prayer comes before you.” Psalm 143:8“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.” Psalm 90:5You sweep men away in the sleep of death; they are like the new grass of the morning–though in the morning it springs up new, by evening it is dry and withered. Like I said, don’t tell me you are not a morning person. The Bible says you are! Everything is fresh and new in the morning. The Bible says, “Men are like grass.” it is dried by evening. If we are honest with ourselves, we know this to be true. How you feel when you get home from work? When do you get tired? There is a difference between being sleepy and being tired. Most folks sleep at night. Regardless of when we sleep, after sleep we are refreshed. That is the purpose of sleep! Don’t confuse the sleepy eyed feeling of the morning with being tired. Get that first cup of coffee, if you need it, and get your day going with God. If you still don’t think you are a morning person, perhaps there is another issue you have not considered. Maybe there is nothing that really excites you about getting out of bed in the morning. If that’s the case, this lesson is exactly what you needed. You need to stoke your relationship with God and boost it to a level you have never done before! If meeting with the Creator of the Universe, one on one, in the morning does not excite you, nothing will. Folks, Jesus rose from the dead but you can’t get out of bed? Something is wrong! Sometimes it’s just that we are not desperate… we don’t see our need for help! Here’s a guy who clearly understood his need and wanted to do anything to gain victory…. Psalm 119:147“I rise before dawn and cry for help; I have put my hope on your word.” If you are not currently a “morning person,” it can change. Your relationship with God is renewed every morning. Lamentations 3:22-23“Because of the LORD’S great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” And of course, let’s make sure we are not confusing plain ol’ laziness with the struggle to keep our eyes open in the morning. Make the effort to push through. Start going to bed earlier. 5 – The fifth reason for having a morning QuietTime is that it forces us to deny ourselves. Think about this one. Could saying, “I’m not a morning person.” just be another way of saying, “I don’t want to deny myself.” Luke 9:23“Then he said to them all: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” One of the greatest struggles in following Christ is the struggle to deny ourselves. Yet, if we truly want to be a disciple of Jesus, it is an absolute requirement that we put Him first, regardless of how we feel. 6 – Morning is God’s time to teach you. Isaiah 50:4The LORD 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. 7 – Make seeking God your first priority. Don’t let distractions… well, er… distract you. Matthew 6:33“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” So there you have it, seven sound reasons to have a QuietTime in the morning and two amazing secrets designed to take your QuietTimes to the next level. Let’s give God the priority He should have by meeting with Him the first thing every morning and let’s make sure we are taking notes when we pray. Try these things, even for a couple of days and see what happens. You will never be sorry or have an ounce of regret that you took even some small action which might bring you closer to God. I have a feeling He is always looking forward to blessing a Faith that Obeys! https://youtu.be/jQuSJa1x5GA Behind the scenes in the studio. Enjoy! Dana Haynes Join the discussion here. Listen Now – Podcast 063 – Awesome QuietTimes!