Quiet Time

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July 21

Tuesday, July 21st, 2020

I have begun another adventure. No, I’m not doing the Race Across America (a bike ride from coast to coast). And no, I’m not leaving the church to take on a new ministry.  And definitely no I’m not going mountain climbing. As good as all those sound (to a younger guy).

Mine is a reading/studying venture. As I finished One Perfect Life by John MacArthur, I knew I had just read the complete (recorded) life of Jesus. I so thoroughly enjoyed that I decided to continue that task by reading One Faithful Life (OFL) by Pastor John on the life and ministry of the Apostle Paul.  Chuck Swindoll wrote: “A primary purpose of the Word of God is to help us know the will of God.” (July 21 devotion in Good Morning, Lord…Can we Talk?).  With that thought in mind, why did Paul write his epistles? OFL does a great job of summarizing why. I’ll shrink it some more.

  • I Cor- defend against various corruptions which were under the guise of human wisdom and carnal chaos.
  • 2 Cor- defending his authority as an apostle and the purity of the gospel.
  • Gal- against false teachers who taught we must adhere to OT ceremonial law.
  • Eph- salvation is entirely God’s work with no human merit.
  • Phil- joy undiminished by “dogs,” “mutilators of the flesh” refuted in Galatians.
  • Col- defense vs high-falootin’ philosophy and man’s traditions.
  • 1 & 2 Thess- commendation to the church for embracing the Gospel.
  • 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus- careful safeguard the truth
  • Philemon- exemplify the spirit of Christ.

“Gospel truth permeates everything Paul ever wrote.” (OPL- p. xix) I look forward to this new venture.  New eye-opening.  New awareness. New “eyes” to see God’s truth.  And I plan to share some of it along the way.

“Father,  open my eyes to Your Word. Give me fresh eyes as I read to see new vistas before me. Clarify Your truth in my heart.”

July 17

Friday, July 17th, 2020

I’ve been reading a book during my Quiet Time called Outrageous Forgiveness in 30 Days. Subtitled “The Beauty of Christlike Forgiveness” it was written by a pastor friend in another town. I knew him and his son, Jon, when I lived there and was pleasantly surprised when he came to speak at a function that used our building to host the monthly meeting. Larry spoke-as you can probably guess-on forgiveness.

On Day 4 (today) he wrote the words of an attorney which he uttered during a trial: “In 23 years of practicing law, I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s incredible.” (p.14) I heard those same words in a courtroom several years ago here in Spencer.

The church I pastor had been embezzled to the tune of $200,000+. We had no choice but to report it and the Indiana State Police (ISP) sent their detective to investigate. But something happened in our hearts along the way.  Anger and betrayal gave way to something else. I proposed to the leaders of the church to pray about forgiving the debt. They concurred.  We brought our thoughts to the prosecutor and the ISP detective took our thoughts under advisement but had to proceed with their end of the deal. We eventually had our day in court. We had filed our plan of forgiveness with the court. When the day came, I was put on the stand (as the church’s representative), and her attorney asked if it was true. I said, “Yes.” His words: “In all my years of practicing law (and he was close to my age), I have never seen this. This is what I call practicing what you preach.” Now, the judge did not accept our idea. But she modified her orders to say that the person is to pay back three other entities before us, then us. But I don’t expect to see a cent. Unless, I’m wrong, death will come first. But it was the outrageous forgiveness showed that stands out to me. I will never forget that attorney’s words. I will never forget how “proud” I was to be part of a leadership team that chose to forgive an unpayable debt. Hmmm. Sound familiar?  (See Matthew 18).

“Father, thank you for your forgiveness. Help me to practice that outrageous forgiveness toward others.”

April 17/Weekend

Friday, April 17th, 2020

“Here’s my heart Lord/Here’s my life Lord/Speak what is true.”

It’s Friday and I’m at home on my day off. I slept in today so I’m late to my Quiet Time. Jo just came out of the shower with her phone playing a song by Lauren Daigle. It was the song with the above lyrics. We sing this song during our worship time on Sunday morning from time to time.

But its more than just a song we sing on Sunday in a worship set. This morning it gripped my heart. I seriously want to be all in with Him but I find myself fighting the “collar.” I remember a saying I heard once: “The problem with living sacrifices is they keep crawling off the altar.” They must have been using me as a test subject. I say, “Here I am” but a few days (maybe just hours) I take back control and do my own thing.

I know I’m not alone. And the funny thing is that I’m really not in control anyway. The way life has been upended the last month or so shows that.  But it hasn’t been just the recent past; it has been for the past umpteen years.

It has taught me one thing though. Through all of my ups and downs, fighting and surrendering, there has been one constant: God. Always there. Always faithful. Always loving. Always with open arms.

“Thank you Father, for Your faithfulness to me-even when I’m not. When I say those words, “Here’s my heart, Lord” let me speak them truthfully.”

Here is the song which started me thinking today only by a different artist.

April 16

Thursday, April 16th, 2020

One of the good things-or at least it could be a good thing- about this current crisis is that it has offered a time for us to slow down and take stock of our lives. No sports-on TV or live. No youth leagues. No clubs. No travel to meetings. No school. No…well…nothing.  We can’t even eat out in a restaurant, and I KNOW someone who really misses that! (She doesn’t read my blog so I’m safe).  ‘Course that also means no small groups; no church meetings; and no gathering for corporate worship unless it’s all virtual.  There is that but let’s recognize it is not the same. 

What it should have done is slow us down. Instead of binging on the latest shows, it has given us an opportunity to spend time in God’s Word. Some have expressed a deeper hunger for God. Psalm 119 has some interesting verses for us to consider:

  • How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Your word. (v.9)
  • I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.  (v.11)
  • Turn my eyes from looking at worthless things; and give me life in your ways.  (v.37)
  • The law of your mouth is better to me than thousands of pieces of silver. (v.72)
  • Oh how I love you law! It is my meditation all the day.  (v.97)
  • Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.  (v.105)

Jeremiah, the prophet, once wrote: “When your words came, I ate them, they were my joy and my heart’s delight.” (15:16)  I’m wondering if I can say the same thing. Is God’s Word my joy and my delight? If not, why not?

“Father, help me to use this time of slow down to enhance my love for You and Your Word. May it be or become my joy and my heart’s delight.”

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!