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Your Most Important Resolution for 2017

Having a Quiet Time that Makes a Difference

This time of year, we tend to make lots of resolutions—we want to do things better in the new year, lead more productive lives, make a difference for God’s kingdom.

But good intentions alone are meaningless. They get us nowhere unless we act upon them and maintain that intention.

It’s said that it takes 21 days of purposefully doing an action to form a habit. If you habitually establish a new activity and carry through on it for 21 days in a row, you have formed a habit. At the very least, you’ve established the foundation for continuing that new, desired behavior.

And this is what we need in both our prayer life and in Bible study: consistency.

Adrian Rogers often said, “Your spiritual life will never rise above the level of your prayer life.” Prayer and Bible study are the anchors of our relationship with God.

If you are reading this Bible study, it’s probably because you want a deeper walk with the Lord. You desire to please Him. You want a living, breathing relationship with the God of Creation, one not based on “have-to’s,” legalism, or a set of rules, but on continual communion through His Spirit within you. Christianity is not a legal relationship, it is a love relationship.

Those ten thousand “thou shalt nots” you set up for your life will never make you one iota more like the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Himself makes you become like Him. But for this to happen, you must spend time with Him.

1. Turn to Psalm 119:87

Oh how I _______ Thy law! It is my _____________ all the day.” Psalm 119:97

In this study we’ll look at five factors that will help you maximize your quiet time with Him each day. But before we get to the “nuts and bolts,” ask yourself:

What Is My Goal, Anyway?

Is your goal in having a quiet time just so you can put an “X” in a box and say, “Okay, God, I did what you wanted me to today,” or “I feel better about myself—I had my quiet time”?

Or is it to connect with a living, vibrant, transcendent Being who loves you and wants to speak into your life, communing with you throughout your day?

Does God have in mind a higher goal for your time together?

2. Turn in your Bible to Ephesians 4:13-14. This passage could be a Bible study all by itself. Complete these important thoughts:

The Goal:

13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the ________________ of the _____ of _____, to a perfect man, to the _____________ of the ____________ of the ______________ of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be ______________, tossed to and fro and carried about with every _________ of _____________, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may _______ ____ in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.

3. Notice the use of the words “measure,” “stature,” and “fullness.”

Here God expresses several goals He has for us.

a. He wants us to come to the unity of the __________.

b. He wants us to increase in ___________________ of the Son of God.

c. He wants to see us grow to the measure of the stature of the fullness of ____________.
d. He wants us to be no longer children, _____________ to and fro by every change in the wind.

A CLOSER LOOK AT “TOSSED TO AND FRO”

Have you ever felt “tossed to and fro”? Have you observed how easy it is to confuse a child? How quickly they can be misled into believing something that isn’t true!
Think how easy it is sometimes to “trick” a child into believing one thing to get them off track, then later pull out a special surprise for them. A child can be easily distracted and quickly misdirected.

But in the spiritual realm, God doesn’t want His followers acting and reacting like a child. We will remain children spiritually if we do not cultivate a mature relationship with God.

e. This passage reaches a high point in v. 15, the culmination of what God wants for His children… “that we may grow up (emphasis mine) in _____ things, into Him who is the head, ___________.”

Our goal should be to grow up
—to become more and more like our Elder Brother, the Lord Jesus Christ—
and to come to love Him more

4. Turn to First Corinthians 13:11

When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: ______ when I became ___ _______, I put away ____________ things.

If you are a parent, you’ve probably had a place in your home or a child’s room where you stood him or her against a marker and noted their growth. It’s a joy to watch them grow in measure and stature toward the “fullness” of their adult height. Imagine the joy of God the Father, using the measure of His Son, watching us growing toward the fullness of Christ!

One thing is certain: without knowing the Word of the Lord and the Lord of the Word, you life is not going to make sense to you. You will be “tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine.”

5. Turn to 2 Corinthians 3:18.

This is one of the most glorious, life-changing passages in the Bible, o. What it conveys is on a level—if we grasp it—that will send a chill down your spine.

18 But we all, with _______________ face, _______________ as in a __________ the __________ of the Lord, are being _________________ into the ________ _________from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.

What is God saying to us? The Amplified Bible helps us understand more fully:

“And we all, with unveiled uncovered face, are continually seeing as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, and are progressively being transformed into His image from [one degree of] glory to [even more] glory, which comes from the Lord, [who is] the Spirit.”

Do you grasp that? Do you see that as we spend TIME in the presence of the Lord, we begin to see Who He really is, in all His glory (although we can never fully grasp it all, this side of Heaven), and as we do, we ourselves are being transformed! We’re being changed more and more into the image of His Son! The name “Christian” was a way of saying in the Early Church “little Christs”—that the believer was supposed to reflect, as much as our mortal bodies, in our humanness, can, the character, love, grace and power of the Lord Jesus Christ. How do we get there? Paul is telling us in this passage: “are continually seeing in a mirror the glory of the Lord.” We are spending time in His presence. Sitting quietly at His fee. There, we’re being transformed into the image of Christ.

Can you imagine for a moment what would happen to our world in 2017 if every person who claims they belong to Christ began to reflect His glory?

The Domino Effect in Your Life

You cannot love someone you do not know. And you can not know someone you don't spend quality time with. You cannot know Jesus without loving Him, for to know Him is to love Him. You cannot trust someone you do not love. To love Him is to trust Him.  To trust Him is to obey Him. And to obey Him is to be blessed.

The reason we don't obey is because we don't trust. We don’t trust because we don’t love. We don’t love because we don’t know. It all begins with a quality quiet time, daily communication with the Lord.

Grow up and fall in love. This is the goal of your quiet time.

6. Turn to Hebrews 11:6

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must ____________ that He is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

7. If it’s impossible to please God without faith, and we must please Him if we’re to have a relationship with Him, what is the best way to increase our faith?
Turn to Romans 10:17

          So then, faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the _________ of God.

There’s no dodging it—we must spend time with God in His Word.

8. Turn now to Psalm 119:97-105. You could “drop a fishing line” into almost any verse in this psalm and pull up a Word from the Lord to help you in your quiet time.

 98Thou through Thy commandments hast made me ___________ than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.
 99I have more _________________ than all my teachers: for Thy testimonies are my ____________________.
 100I understand more than the _________________, because I keep Thy precepts.
 101I have refrained my feet from _________  _________  _______, that I might keep Thy word.
 102I have not departed from Thy judgments: for Thou hast _____________ me.
 103How sweet are Thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!
 104Through Thy ____________ I get ___________________: therefore I hate every ___________ way.
 105Thy __________ is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Now let’s examine…

Five Factors for a Meaningful Quiet Time

The Proper Period

Make time—don’t “try to find time.” This would be like saying, “I'll find money to give to God at the end of the month. Whatever is left over is His.” Would that work well?

Make it a priority.

Find the right time. Be physically alert. It should be your very best time, when the cobwebs are out of your mind and you can think clearly. Don't give the Lord your leftovers.

Find time early in the day. You don't first take the trip and then read the map. Spend time alone with God to begin your day.

9. Turn to Psalm 5:3.

3My voice shalt Thou hear in the ______________, O LORD; in the _______________ will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will look up.

10. Turn now to Psalm 63: 1-3, a beautiful passage that describes the relationship of the child of God with the heavenly Father.
1O God, thou art my God; ___________ will I _______ Thee: my soul _________________ for Thee, my flesh _____________ for Thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is.”

Look at the words the psalmist uses here. They are physical words. His need for a relationship with God is so strong that he feels it physically. Have you ever longed for God so desperately that it was a physically longing?

If you remember a time like that, mention the occasion here.



 

To _____ Thy power and Thy glory, so as I have ______ Thee in the sanctuary.
Because Thy lovingkindness is better than life, my ______ shall ________ Thee.

That is a relationship!

For some, there may be legitimate reasons you cannot “meet God in the morning.” For most of us, however, that’s not the case. How alert are you—how much energy do you have at the end of your day? Choose the best time.

The Proper Preparation

A quiet time is fellowship with a holy God. Prepare for this time.  

Be focused. Know He’s there.

Be morally pure and clean. Some people don't have a quiet time because they feel uncomfortable looking God in the face with sin in their lives. Come before God asking Him to shine His light upon your life. Then confess and receive His forgiveness.

11. But here is a caution for us all. Turn to Psalm 66:18

18 If I regard ___________ [wickedness] in my heart, the Lord will not hear me:

A CLOSER LOOK AT “REGARD INIQUITY”

In this verse, “regard’ means to cherish it, to try to hide it, to enjoy it, to harbor it. Do you have any secret sins no one knows about that you keep hidden? If so, that relationship you cherish with that sin is going to stand in the way of your relationship with Almighty God—and keep you  from every coming into the fullness of life He has for you and your purpose for being here. Is it worth that price to pay—to miss your calling? To miss your purpose? Get rid of that thing immediately It’s costing you too much. Bring it before God. Confess it. Ask to be cleansed. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”(1 John 1:9)

The Proper Place

Find a place where you can focus.

12.  Turn to Matthew 6:6

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy _________, and when thou hast _______ thy door, pray to thy Father which is in _____________; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Now, in context, Jesus is comparing the Pharisee who pridefully prays openly so he will be seen by others, then contrasts that behavior with the right heart attitude in prayer. Jesus is saying, if you don’t have a literal closet available, simply find a place of isolation where you can shut the door on the world and open the windows to heaven. Jesus sought out places where He could be alone and so should you.

Here are some practical suggestions Dr. Rogers specifically mentioned when he taught about having a successful quiet time:

The Proper Provisions

To have an effective quiet time, you need the right tools:

a readable Bible - Invest in one with plenty of room to jot notes in the margins.

a prayer journal - Expect God to give you something and write it down. Also use it to record things you’re praying about.

a notepad - Write down your daily assignments.

The minute you sit down to focus on the Word of God and commune with Him, a dozen urgent tasks you must not forget will crowd your mind.

That’s no accident!

Satan will do everything he can to distract you. So keep a note pad, write down that item when it starts to plague you—then go right back to focusing upon God.

The Proper Procedures

1. Get still and quiet. Turn to Psalm 46:10.

 “Be _________, and know that I am God.”

Calm down, relax, and recognize His presence. Take a deep breath and focus your thoughts on the Lord.

2. Start with the Word of God. It's better to start by reading the Bible than to start in prayer. It’s more important for you to hear from God than for God to hear from you. God already knows all about you, but you need to know a lot more about Him.

3. Read for quality, not quantity. It’s fine to have a goal to read the Bible through in a year, or a similar goal, but that's not the purpose of your quiet time.

4. Meditate. As you focus on the Word of God and meditate, let it permeate you.
Ask:

  • Is there a command to obey?
  • Is there a promise to claim?
  • Is there a sin to avoid?
  • Is there a lesson to learn?
  • Is there a new truth to carry with me?

5. Now you're ready to pray. When you pray, pour out your soul. Be natural and honest with God. Tell Him how you feel. Pray out loud. It keeps your mind on track and enables you to stay focused.

6. Record what God gives you. Say, “Father, speak to me. What do you have for me today?” Then begin to write down what God says to you and what He tells you to do.

At first you may feel foolish. It may seem risky. But ask your Heavenly Father to block out any voice of the enemy or thought in your mind which is not from Him and speak to you. The more you do this, the more you will begin to recognize His voice and you will hear from Him!

7. Begin to share out of your quiet time. God did not make us to be reservoirs; He made us to be conduits. Tell others what God is showing you.

8. Finally, obey what God tells you. Your spiritual train runs on two rails. One is revelation; the other is obedience. If either rail stops, your train stops. Learn to obey the Word of God.

You may want to print this study out and use it as a checklist as you prepare your time, your place and gather your “tools.”

May these simple suggestions help you have a daily quiet time in the presence of our loving, almighty, powerful God as you…

“…Grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and forever. Amen.”

2 Peter 3:18

Posted by dave hare at 12:00 AM

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