Quiet Time

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February 24

Monday, February 24th, 2020

My title is the “S” words.

As I was having my Quiet Time this morning a weird thing happened in my brain. (No comment from the peanut gallery). I started on the letter “S.”  It was egged on by my morning reading of A Good Old Age by Derek Prime. He takes each letter of the alphabet and chooses a topic common to an aging person that begins with that letter. Today’s letter was “S” but I’m still not sure what synapse in my brain was hard-wired this morning. 🙂  Anyway, here are the “S” words I came up with to describe Jesus:

  • Savior- common, expected, grateful for this.
  • Sovereign- over all, in charge, in control.
  • Sincere- when He says He loves me, He means it. Faithful. Present. “I will never leave your or forsake you.”
  • Strong- another word for Omnipotent. A good biblical description used often. “The Lord strong and mighty.”
  • Sacrificial- describes His actions on the cross. “He is the sacrifice once for all.”
  • Sucker- the only negative. Satan’s word for Him at the cross. Satan’s final word because Jesus soon proved who the real sucker was.

The final word for this exercise? SERVANT. Of all the words this might be the one I can most identify with. Not that I exhibit it as often as I should, but Jesus’ whole life was as a servant. He exhibited it to His disciples in John 13. His life as a servant led Him to the cross where He gave Himself away for me. He now serves by interceding for us all at the right hand of the Father.

Being a servant to others is the one quality  I can emulate. I can’t be Savior. That’s reserved for One. I can’t be Sovereign. I make a mess of my own life without ruining others. My sincerity is spotty. My strength fails. My sacrificial life is weak. I am a sucker at times for sin. But I can serve!

“Father, help me to be a servant to all, even as Jesus was. May it know no bounds in its expression to You and to others.”

February 14/Weekend

Friday, February 14th, 2020

Aaaaah. What’s that sound I hear? Oh yeah.  Love. Love is in the air. But that is not the point of my devotion today.

In the past I have not been kind to the OT. The conviction was so strong that several weeks ago I apologized to the church before I preached a sermon the Bible.  Good thing. I would have really had to eat crow after my reading this morning-Nahum 1. WOW!!! May I ask you to stop right here and take a few minutes to read it? Then come back here please for a few of my thoughts/highlights.

Thanks. You’re back. 🙂

  1. The Lord is a jealous and avenging God…slow to anger and great in power. (2-3)  I like the balance this gives. Jealous and avenging but He doesn’t fly off the handle at first provocation.
  2. His way is in the whirlwind and storm. (3)  No matter how alone we feel He is with us. No matter the strength of the storm He’s got us covered.
  3. The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble. (7) Ditto. See #2.
  4. It is good to be a harbinger of the good news. (v.15)

I read one chapter today. My practice has been to read several. But I’ve also told people to read until you sense God’s Word pressing its truth on your heart. I did that this morning.

“Father, what powerful truth I read about YOU. Help me now not to just read this, but to believe and apply it. Thank you for being YOU.”

My apologies this is posted so late. I was almost done and I must have hit a key that deleted everything. It was time to leave the house after that.  And yes, that is smoke you are seeing from my ears.

 

 

February 7/Weekend

Friday, February 7th, 2020

My title for this devotion is Feast vs Famine.

“Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “when I will send a famine on the land-not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the Lord, but they shall not find it.” Amos 8:11-12

I read those verses this morning during my Quiet Time. Then I read this:

Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning a lion wakes up. It knows it must must outrun the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a lion or a gazelle; when the sun comes up, you’d better be running. Herbert Caen in San Francisco Chronicle

Charles Spurgeon once said, “If you are not seeking the Lord, the devil is seeking you.” I believe I’d go on record as saying whether I am or not, the enemy is seeking me.

I am most vulnerable to the enemy when I am not seeking God, when I am being hit-or-miss in my approach, and especially when there is a famine in my heart for the Word. For me, this early morning time is vital. It keeps the famine away; it keeps the lion at bay; and helps to start my day with a quick step, energy for the battle ahead, and a desire to seek God.

“Father, no matter what goes on in my life, may this early morning time never lose it mystique, never lose it luster, never lose its draw for me to seek You.”

February 3

Monday, February 3rd, 2020

My title for this devotion is Growth vs Stagnation.

One of the challenges every Christ-follower faces is the one of growth. Will I or won’t I? Will I stay the same or expand?  Will I be content (in a bad way) or will I desire more? Will I be like a tree planted by the water or will I dry up from lack of nourishment?

Two Scriptures spoke volumes to me this morning. The first is Hosea 10:12- “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.”

The other is Psalm 1:2-3- “His delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in season, and its leaf does not wither.”

Growth is expected. While we need to be content in God, we also need to remember that contentment does not mean stagnation. Hosea says we need to break up the fallow ground-ground that has become crusty and hard over the winter and needs plowed and turned. That can happen to my heart and my heart needs plowed to break up that crust. Then I need to make sure I’m planted by streams of water, gathering and absorbing nourishment essential to my growth and fruitfulness.

“Father, stagnation is not on the docket. Contentment for that purpose is not to be on my plate. Help me to continually be on-the-grow. Help me to remember that when growth stops, decay begins.”

November 15/Weekend

Friday, November 15th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Read, Relish and React.

Have you ever read a passage of Scripture many times before and then just one time there is this (dare I say magical powerful) moment when during one reading you feel like you have been hit by a sledgehammer or that the light has gone on LED? It has happened to me many times before…today was another.

I’ve been reading through Isaiah the past couple weeks as I read through the OT. Yesterday I read the great Messianic prophecy of Jesus’ crucifixion found in Isaiah 52:13-53:12. This morning I read Isaiah 55. There is so much there, especially in things we say or hear but may not know where they came from.  Read slowly please:

“Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near.” (v.6)

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (8-9)

So shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (11)

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” (12)  {Note: this one of the early worship songs by the Maranatha Singers}

Powerful words. Let God’s Word wash over you today and this weekend. Prepare yourself for worship this Sunday by reading and rereading these verses.

“Father, You said your word would not return void (empty). I’m trusting for that in my life today and this weekend.”

Weekend Extra

Saturday, September 14th, 2019

I wrote this while on vacation last week but had no internet service nor did I take my computer so I thought I would enter it as a weekend extra.

My title for this devotion is Man vs God.

There is a discussion/debate that has gone on for years and continues to this day. And unless I miss my guess will go on until Jesus returns. The discussion/debate? Who made the earth? Who created what we have? Was it the evolution of animal and man or was it God?

After today(Friday), my vote is God. ‘Course it always was, but even more after today. Today was a most amazing day. It began with a tour of Skagway by trolley. Skagway came about because of the Gold Rush and a few resilient people.  It is still a town of a few resilient people-more during tourist season than in the vicious winter. Ghost town is a more appropriate name. But in the afternoon we took the train to White Pass. I’m not sure I have seen as much beautiful scenery as I did today.

And all that ran through my head (after Tuesday’s all day boat ride, Wednesday’s stop at Icy Straight Point, and today’s stop at Skagway) were the words of Scripture: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the earth show His handiwork.” (Ps.19:1) Then when I came back to the room and Jo napped, I read this: “O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!…When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?” (Ps.8:1,3-4)

All I could think of was the beauty of what God created. Much of it untouched. A waterfall in the middle of the forest. The rapidly flowing water. The glacier between two mountains. Absolutely stunning scenery. Beautiful blue water. I had and have a hard time writing it off to man’s work. Or chance. Or a big bang.

“God you have created a majestic thing of beauty. The heavens. The earth. Thank you for giving me a wonderful opportunity to witness it first hand. Yes, human ingenuity made the railroad and the Alaskan highway and the landmarks. But YOU! You made it all. Man could not have done it!”

Here are a few pictures I took with my phone. We had a camera but I needed them NOW! 🙂  The top 2 and the first on the left is from Skagway. The latter two are from Glacier Bay (Saturday’s all day ride). I even got to see the glacier calve. Talk about amazing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 31

Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

I actually wrote the bulk of this Monday morning at Jo’s sister’s apartment that would see us for the final time that day. I was going to title this An Observation. But this morning I went back to it and reworked some of it, mostly by adding some thoughts. But when I reworked it this morning I decided on a different title:

Stretching vs. Atrophy.

Here is the reworked devotion:

This Monday as I read my devotion from “Faith” from an Our Daily Bread collection of devotions, knowing today would the last day we would ever see this apartment and all that has taken place over the last month or so, I had to make some observations. The author’s devotion was on Stretching. As I sit down to have my Quiet Time,  the apartment is quiet. The outside is quiet. My soul is quiet and at rest. Today we pack up and move what remains in Vicki’s apartment. It has been a “stretching” experience in so many ways.

For Jo it has stretched her far beyond her comfort zone. I have not seen her cry like she has in a long, long time. Maybe after my second bike accident when I was seriously injured and the ensuing trauma which followed. Jo has had to go to bank after bank-back and forth-many times. Talk to Job & Family Services (a government agency…’Nuff said0. Apply for Medicaid for her sister. Become POA.  Make future funeral arrangements. Nursing home. Hospital. Phone calls. Way, way, way out of her comfort zone.  She’s a saint putting up with all she has.

For me it was giving up the routine of my job. Not being there for what I consider my responsibility has been hard. It has been hard to leave for weeks (3 of the last 5 to clean out this hoarder’s apartment. Scrubbing on my hands and knees to clean up…stuff. I cannot say enough about how Ryan and Diana (youth pastor and secretary) have held down the fort. Nor can I praise the leadership of OVCF enough for letting me come and go as I have, telling me “you have got to take care of your family.”

Stretching is painful. I’ve had rotator cuff surgery and stretching was vital to recovery of motion. I’ve had meniscus and collarbone surgery. Stretching was vital to recovery.  One of the most important recovery mechanisms after a bike ride is stretching. In the life of the Christ-follower, stretching is vital to growth. It hurts to stretch muscles that want to curl up and atrophy. It hurts to stretch spiritual muscles that will do the same. But it is absolutely a necessity. Stretching helps us to focus not on what has been but on what will be. In our lives, stretching will help us focus not on what we have been, but on who we can become. It is easy to see ourselves with all our failures and shortcomings, but God looks beyond that to see who we are as His new creation through the power of His Spirit.

“Father, thank you for stretching me. Thank you for giving me (sometimes) unpleasant situations that challenge me to break out of sameness and safety and step out onto the water. As I take those steps-present and future-help me to keep my eyes on You, not the waves kicking up. And help me to remember this is all in your plan for me. Stretch me where I need stretched.”

July 9

Tuesday, July 9th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Nonchalance vs. Excitement.

What kind of attitude do you have toward God’s Word (GW)? How do you approach His Word? As I read today in 2 Kings 15-17, an overwhelming sadness hit me. But, at the same time, an incredible awareness of the patience of God toward His faithless people also crept in. At least until He’d had enough. Then enough was enough.

It is easy to read large sections like that; to read of the faithlessness of the people; to read of the long-suffering patience of God, and to get jaded. But I don’t want my approach to GW to ever get jaded.

Nor do I want to approach it nonchalantly. Psalm 119:18 says, “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.” The right approach to GW starts with a prayer for open eyes. Whether that be open eyes to see its truths, or open eyes to be receptive to its teachings, the first approach to understanding is to ask for open eyes to see.

I think a second necessity is to enjoy GW. 119:24 says, “Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.” There is something to be said about an eagerness approaching GW rather than a drudgery. Or even a nonchalance seen in a “whatever” approach.

A third necessity is a clean heart. 119:29 says, “Put false ways far from me and graciously teach me your law!” Sin is a barrier to learning. That barrier needs to be broken or at least lowered so GW can do its thing. When the clean heart is evident, the desire to seek becomes stronger. Psalm 119 also uses words like “I have chosen” [v.30] and “I cling” [v.31] to describe what I see is a hunger for GW.

Finally, one of my favorite verses in this chapter is verse 32: “I will run in the way of your commandments when you enlarge my heart.” Physically, an enlarged heart is extremely dangerous. Spiritually, it is a by-product of love for GW. But it can also be dangerous. Who knows what can happen when God enlarges the heart!

“Father, Your Word is life to me, to all Christ-followers. May I never take a nonchalant approach to Your Word. Bring Your Word to life as I read it with open eyes. Enlarge my heart.”

July 8

Monday, July 8th, 2019

My title for this devotion is Sameness: Rut vs Routine.

I have spent the past two weeks playing hit-or-miss. My morning Quiet Time took a hit. Maybe I should say my normal, meet-God-in-the-morning Quiet Time took a hit.  I confess to getting up early so at the crack of dawn I could ride my bike. It was a good stress reliever plus I knew that later in the day would be a lost cause. I chose to ride before my hot day began. I would have my Quiet Time at night after Jo went to bed. But with no internet it was not possible to post here.

Maybe that’s why I told Jo last night as I was getting my things ready for my Quiet Time that I’ll be glad to get back to my routine. Some might call it a rut. And I suppose it could be. Early car drivers knew the conditions of the hard-packed roads means they needed to choose their rut wisely.  I’m choosing my rut. It’s early morning now and my routine is back!

I was reminded of that this morning as I began reading Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible. It is amazing to me how just after days out of the routine plays havoc with my spirit, Psalm 119 brings me back. “Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart.” [v.2] “How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your Word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.” [Vv.9-11]

What great words to hear this morning! I missed this morning “routine.” I missed this sameness. In this case, it is a good routine. I must keep it from being a rut, one I dread. But I must keep it a routine, one I look forward to. It is in this routine that I find my rest. I find my refuge. I find my strength.

“Father, let me seek you with my whole heart. Let me use this good ‘routine’ as the way to know you and to know your Word. Draw me near to you, Father, as I get back into your Word.”

June 12

Wednesday, June 12th, 2019

My title for today’s devotion is Autopilot vs Striving.

I read recently that pilots are become more susceptible to making errors due to auto-pilot and all the advancements made to flying and self-flying. One of the commercials I have seen lately has been one of the major car companies (Nissan) introducing a “Driver Assist” to the Rogue. I’m pretty sure the other car makers have as well. That sort of concerns me. I know how easy it is to get distracted while driving with the steering wheel in my hands, let alone be “relaxed” when it comes to driving with awareness.

Vigilance is a word that I think has lost its oomph. In some ways many have hit autopilot when it comes to their Christian walk. When I sat down at my kitchen table this morning to have my Quiet Time, I prayed earnestly (I don’t always) that God would give me something from His Word. The old hymn Break Thou the Bread of Life came to mind. “Beyond the sacred page, I seek Thee Lord; My spirit pants for Thee, O Living Word.” Another stanza has these words: “Show me the Truth concealed, Within Thy Word, And in Thy Book revealed I see the Lord.” (My apologies for the King James English).  🙂

One of the things I want to guard against is being on autopilot. I want to continue to hunger for God’s Word. That’s why Psalm 92:12-15 (Please stop and read it) stood out to me today. Not only do I want to flourish but I like the phrase “They still bear fruit in old age; they are full of sap and green.” What a vivid picture that puts in my head!  I want to continue striving, reaching for, and sweating with arms outstretched and hands wide open. No autopilot for me!! The only “driver assist” I want is God’s help to stay the course and keep going.  I want my last breath to be still seeking Him.

“Father, please don’t let me be content with autopilot. Even at age 66 I still want to be striving with arms outstretched and hands wide open reaching for all you have for me. I don’t want “couch-potato” to describe my remaining years.”