Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Quiet Time - Part 2
Myth #2: "It isn't quantity, its quality."
Have you ever noticed that every mother's Bible comes equipped with an invisible button so no matter what time you open it to read there is sudden a child or two or more that are suddenly at your elbow or needs attention? I've also noticed this same phenomenon with my pillow and babies. As soon as my head hit the pillow and I start to fall asleep the baby awakes. But that is off the subject.
I am sure you have heard the opening quote many times. For a while the trend was to use it for child rearing. It doesn't matter how much time you spend with your child/spouse/Lord as long as the time is packed full of quality. Not sure what the exact parameters are supposed to be for "quality" but I imagine it is something along the lines of uninterrupted time when you can concentrate.
As far as how it applies to Quiet Time, or Personal Devotions, or whatever your term for it is, I would say "yes.. and no." Nice muddy answer, eh? Have a little time is better than NO time, absolutely. But the fast paced society that we live in promotes the quick and instant gratification of tasks or events. So now, there are all manner of "Bibles" with titles akin to: "The 5 minute devotional Bible" or the "Busy teenagers 10 minute devotional Bible" etc. Let's see, we can spend all manner of time in front of a computer, or reading, or watching T.V., or on any number other things, but we can't afford maybe a half an hour a day for our Savior? All we can eke out is 5 minutes? or 15? And maybe a quickie prayer?
2 Timothy 2:15 "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
Doing your own personal Bible reading helps you to grow spiritually. It helps to give you a knowledge of the whole Bible, a broad base of contextual knowledge. Not that you know everything, but the more you read, the more you have to fall back on. With that knowledge you can discern when something isn't right. Again, this doesn't come from a quick reading, or once through the Bible. It develops over time, with consistent reading and studying of the Word. What is amazing to me is even after years of reading through the Bible over and over again, there is so much that still jumps out at me, or new things the Lord shows me at times. It seems like the more I get into the Bible, the more I realize I don't really know that much! It is wonderful to find those nuggets that you'd never thought were there in the midst of the books of Chronicles.
The word study implies a prolonged perusal. To study something, you wouldn't spend just 5 minutes a day, or once a week on it. When officials are learning to recognize counterfeit money, they don't look at the fake currency. They study minutely the real deal, so that anything that is counterfeit will be recognized immediately.
Psalm 40:8 "I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart." How can the law (God's word) be in your heart if you don't know what it says? Memorizing Scripture takes time.
Psalm 94:12 "Blessed is the man whom thou chastenest, O Lord, and teachest him out of thy law;" Did you catch that? BLESSED is the man who is chastened and taught out of God's word. Blessed basically means happy. I cannot tell how many times in my personal time of reading the Lord has smote my heart over something and chastised and taught me from His Word. Did I resent it? No, I was happy! It is precious to have the Lord love us like that.
Psalm 119:18 "Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wonderous things out of thy law." Oh how we should pray that before we read! Some truths remain hidden until God judges is ready to receive them.
Colossians 3:16a "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom;" Have you ever noticed the longer you let a tea bag steep in hot water the stronger the taste is? The more we are in the Word, the more godly wisdom we will have. Again, this isn't something that happens overnight, but over time with consistency.
Many of the hymns reflect the principle of spending time with God. For example, "Take Time to Be Holy" from Leviticus 20:7; My Quiet Time (By Ron and Shelly Hamilton) from Matthew 6:6, 2 Kings 4:33; "Be Still and Know", Psalm 46:10 "Sweet Hour of Prayer" Acts 3:1. Many of the Psalms refer to prayer. "Standing on the Promises", 2 Peter 1:4. It is hard to stand on the promises when you don't even know what they are. Ephesians 6 refers to the Armor of God. The sword, the only offensive weapon you have, is the Word of God. Is your sword sharp or dull? Do you know how to wield it? If you strike at the enemy, would you be in more danger of hurting yourself or him? Fencing is a fine art, takes much time and practice. Learning how to combat with a sword takes much time and practice as well. You have to be familiar with it's length, it weight, it's heft, so to speak. It must be used as an extension of your body, not a separate entity.
Myth #3: "I don't want to neglect my family." Seriously, I heard this from a lady who usually strikes me as very wise and godly. My jaw about hit the floor. I was thinking about this statement, trying to figure out where she was coming from on it. She has a large family, with older children up in their late teens, down to baby age.
I'm not saying that you forsake your family every time you have the notion to do anything for the Lord. What I am saying, is that having a regular time everyday to do your own reading and praying won't hurt them. In fact, it will be a benefit for them. Why not train your children to be quiet while you do your reading? In our house, the rule is simple. If someone is doing their devotions, you be quiet. Are they always perfect at that? No, but it is what we strive for. Surely your family, who has you for 24 hours a day, can be trained to be respectful enough for God's Word to allow you to get in say, a half hour of Bible reading and personal time with the Lord?
Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." This verse is used for child training principles.. mostly behavior. I have never heard anyone apply it to Personal Devotions. My children usually see me doing my Bible reading in the morning. The ones that can read are trained to do their Bible reading as soon as they get up, before they do anything else. Usually our times coincide, so it isn't a problem, and usually we are up earlier than the littles. However, sometimes they are up earlier, and get it done before I do. Do they fool around and play and make it impossible for me to do my reading? No. They have been trained (the readers) to be respectful. They will read or start their schoolwork. The littles are still be trained, but progress is being made. The point is this, they see that Bible reading is important to me, and it is training them a certain mindset towards the Word of God. "More is caught than taught" is how the saying goes.
Deuteronomy 6:7 "And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up." I have heard this verses, and others similar to it, in reference to homeschooling, which is actually taking it out of context. However, it is talking about God's law, His Holy World, which at that time consisted of only what He had told Moses up to that point. Are we so quick to jump on the "oh see, we are supposed to teach IN THINE HOUSE..." for schooling and ignore the real meaning? What about putting God first? What about teaching them the importance of time with Him? The reason we have a generation of Christians who don't make that a high priority is because the example was never set, or taught.
If you put your family before God, it is idolatry, plain and simple.
Exodus 20:3 "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." That is pretty clear, I am sure. This may be the going trend, but it is NOT godly to skip church to do something with your family. It is not godly to skip devotions because of your family. Again, I am not saying that your devotions should take all day, but you should strive to have a regular time each and every day.
To close out this little study I am going to put a disclaimer in here. You'll notice I never said what part of the day to have your regular time. That is between you and God, and what works for your schedule the best. Right now, for *me* is first thing in the morning, early as I can manage to get up and still be conscience. There are seasons in life when this changes. When my dh worked nights my schedule was different. With a new baby in the house, things tend to be a little discombobulated for a time. There are also times when it just doesn't happen... sickness, or a family tragedy, for example. I can understand that.
What the whole point of this study is to show that there should be a normal time we have set apart for personal time with the Lord. You love your dh (at least I hope you do!) and you wouldn't ignore him for several days because you were too busy. How much more should we love our Heavenly Bridegroom? Would you eat only once or twice a week? Or spend 5 minutes a day eating?
I encourage you to start today in making a godly habit of spending quiet time with Lord each and every day.