The Personal Devotional Life

Sept. 28, 2019 Dámaris Carbaugh

Session Transcript

Dámaris Carbaugh: If you could lose weight crying, I’ve lost like thirty pounds this weekend! (laughter) This morning when I was trying to put a little eyeliner on, I noticed my eyelids were swollen because I have cried so much. And I cry easily, all the time.

One of the funniest things that ever happened is that I cry so much—and over everything and anything. One time I’m in my bedroom, and I’m crying and crying, and my son walks in (he’s about fifteen). He walked in with two ties because he wanted to ask me which one. I’m like, “boo-hoo-hoo.”

He sees me crying and he goes, “Which one, Mom, this one or this one?” It didn’t move him at all that I was crying! I just cry. And just because you cry a lot doesn’t make you spiritual; you’re just dramatic! (laughter)

One of the most precious people God has ever given me the privilege to meet is Nancy! Just hear me out here. She knows I’m not trying to elevate her in any way. But this is a woman whom I feel has wanted to seek God ever since she was a little girl. And she doesn’t cry very often, and I cry all the time! 

All these speakers that I’ve heard . . . this has been an amazing conference! Every speaker you’ve heard . . . Kelly, I’ve been so blessed. Everything she said up here just now about the leading of the Holy Spirit, how we need the Holy Spirit, was just a confirmation of what I want to bring to you. Nancy has given me the privilege and the task of speaking to you a little bit about the last chapter in the Bible study of Seeking Him.

What a wonderful title: Seeking Him! Do you know that we all know how to seek. Nobody has to teach you how to seek. Last night, there was a little one-year-old--I think--or she looked tiny, one of these little babies here. And she was over there and she’s just walking, like, she was ready to come up the stairs. . .because that’s what she wanted!

She was seeking the stairs, and nobody had to teach her, you know, nobody went up to her and said, “Little girl, this is what you do when you want to go up the stairs.” There’s something in you that you know how to go after what you want to go after. And may God help us and show us that He’s the One we need to seek. Amen? [ladies respond, “amen!”]

The last chapter in the Seeking Him Bible study is called “The Personal Devotional Life.” It’s a beautiful guide to help you get started if that’s something you have a problem with, your personal devotional life. 

If you think you’re going to get a formula from me, if you think you’re going to hear me say, “When I get up every morning at five . . .” If I’m up at five o’clock, it’s because I haven’t been to bed yet! (laughter) It’s just the way I am!

But the personal devotional life . . . When I was given this task, I wrote a little summary. I want to read you this little summary and then I’ll tell you what’s on my heart. I pray that my time with you will shed some light on the importance of having a personal devotional life.

There’s that word: it’s “personal.” I love what Kelly said: the Holy Spirit is a Person, Jesus is a Person, the Father is a Person. I love the hymn: “Holy, holy, holy, God in three Persons, blessed Trinity.” It is a personal devotional life. I want God to help us see what that life—that personal devotional life—ought to produce in you and in me.

Nancy writes (and this is such a wonderful sentence!): “Above all, it is through the written Word—illuminated by the Spirit of God—that we come to know Christ, the Living Word, in a deep and personal way.” 

God made us in His image. We know that. He made us persons with a mind, emotions, and a will. And by this we can say that God, too, is a Person. God has a mind. God has emotions. And God most definitely has a will. 

I was reading in Jeremiah (I have to interrupt myself; I’m the only person I know that interrupts herself!) I was reading Jeremiah, the second chapter. You talk about God having emotions?

God says, through the prophet Jeremiah, “What did your ancestors find wrong with Me, that they abandoned Me?!” Talk about emotions! Our God has emotions. I’m glad because sometimes I don’t know what we’re thinking. He has emotions, and He most definitely has a will. And you know what God wants? He wants us to know Him! Can you say “amen”?

Jesus said in His prayer in John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” His written Word, the Bible, will show you who He is . . . the great I AM in Exodus. His written Word will show you what He has done. He’s the Creator of everything! Beautifully said in many places, but in Colossians 1:16.

His written Word will show you what His will for you is. And you know what? More than anything I feel is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength (see Matt. 22:37, 39). And the next one, we don’t like that much: “. . . and your neighbor as yourself.” (laughter) You get those two, and you’re doing pretty good!

I’m so glad that Kelly just said that! God’s Spirit is the only way we can truly know Him. The apostle Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 3:6 of his ministry. He says, “God, who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 

It’s not just the Word, the written Word—in the sense of it’s not just these—this word and that word. Is this that word? Is that word that we read coming to life by the power of the Spirit? You see, the Pharisees were very aware of what the written Law said, yet they rejected the Son of God!

In Mark 7, verse 6 Jesus says to them: “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written, ‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me.’” It is important to remind ourselves that we are still very capable of being like those Pharisees. Please understand that the minute you become a Christian, you are very prone to become a Pharisee!

You would never say it like that, but you just kind of have this, “I got this!” Be very careful! And when Jesus says things to them that we read, that bother Him, please open your heart and say, “Lord, do I bother You like that? Do I bother You?” 

It’s important to remind ourselves that we’re still very capable of being like those Pharisees if our devotional life becomes just a dry, routine, going-through-the-motions kind of exercise. It’s impossible to emphasize enough this truth, that we cannot know Christ unless the Spirit illuminates the Living Word—which is Jesus Christ—to us.

Kelly just said that the Spirit guides us into all truth. When the Spirit of truth comes, Jesus said in John 16:13 that He will guide you into all truth. When I look at that verse, I rejoice; I become so happy! Jesus promised to send the Spirit, and Jesus kept His promise! We know the Spirit wants to guide all of us into all truth! Can you say “amen”!?

Remember, the Spirit is the Helper who will tell us what He has heard from the Father, from the Son. God wants us to seek Him! The story of Mary and Martha . . . we love that story, don’t we? I remember one Bible teacher once saying that we talk about Martha and how she didn’t really have the heart like Mary.

“But,” she said, “if I ever want to go to somebody’s house, I want to go to Martha’s house!” (laughter) Because she cared. The truth is, she really did care. But what I want you to see here is, I’m so grateful for the way that Jesus told Martha that the stress of trying to do everything right (have you been there?) was keeping her from choosing what Mary chose.

Jesus clearly called what Mary did “good.” And what exactly was Mary doing? Nothing! . . . as far as Martha was concerned! Isn’t that the truth? She’s sitting there like this! (laughter) But Jesus said that what Mary had chosen would not be taken away from her. When you decide to seek Him, He will not let anything or anyone take that away from you! Isn’t that sweet?

But the million-dollar question is: Do you want what Mary chose? Let’s take a closer look at what Mary did. She didn’t take out her journal and Bible because, well there were the Scriptures. Whenever you hear the word “Scriptures” in the New Testament, it refers to the Old Testament, because the New Testament hadn’t been written yet.

But she didn’t take out a journal (and I am not criticizing you if you journal and you journal a lot). I have a journal. I’ve had it for two years and it’s half-full. (laughter) So once in a while I write in it, but’s that just not kind of what I do. She didn’t do that. Listen to what she wanted: she wanted to listen to everything to Jesus had to say. 

She wanted to hear what He had done. She wanted to know what was on His heart and mind. She wanted Jesus! 

Oh my goodness. Last night, the message by Brother Bob and how Mary poured that perfume. Oh, my goodness, I mean, I thought I loved Mary! I love Mary even more! I can’t wait to meet her! It’s true, we’re going to meet her. We’re going to meet Mary and Martha.

I’m going to meet Lazarus. I’m going to meet Bathsheba . . . whom I don’t like very much. (laughter) But I’m going to be perfect, so my attitude is going to be right. (laughter) But a little bit in me just wants to go, “What were you doing?!” Anyway, she just wanted Jesus. Mary wanted Jesus.

Now, let me ask you something. Do you think she didn’t care if He ate? You think she didn’t care if He might have been tired and needed some refreshment? Do you think Jesus would have rewarded laziness on Mary’s part? Do you think Mary was actually sitting there looking spiritual, but inside was going, “I don’t want to do anything!” 

Nobody’s wiser than Jesus. Jesus knew her heart. She wasn’t trying to get out of work. She was lost in who Jesus was! Do you get lost thinking about Him? Jesus longs for those whose hearts are completely captivated. Does He captivate you by who He is and by His beauty? And then, the memory verse in the Seeking Him Bible study for this chapter.

The memory verse for this is Psalm 27:4:

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.

And then these verses came to mind, Luke 11:9–13 (paraphrased): “So I tell you, keep on asking and you will receive what you ask for.” Even if what you need to ask this afternoon is: “You know what, Lord? I may not admit this to anybody else, but You know if I’m seeking You. I don’t even want to seek You. I might say I do, but I don’t want to. But God, I’m asking you—it says ask—to get a hold of my heart and give me a heart that seeks You!” 

Keep on seeking and you will find, keep on knocking and the door will be opened to you, for everyone who asks receives, everyone who seeks finds and everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.

You fathers, if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead, or if they ask for an egg do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the gift of the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?

Do you know that one of the first times I read that, I remember thinking, This verse says seek, knock, and ask, but I forget that the last thing it says is, ‘How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him. When was the last time you said, “Holy Spirit, I need You?”

We’re usually asking for this and that and good things. We want wayward children to come back to the Lord, don’t you? But not too often am I just saying, “Holy Spirit, just give me everything I need to walk, like Kelly said. (What’s walking? Living!) I want to live in a way that pleases You.”

What does your devotion to Jesus look like? It says “a personal devotional life.” That devotion—completely “devoted” to Jesus. Do you feel defeated in this area of personal devotion to Him? 

  • Is reading the Bible a chore to you? 
  • Is prayer something you tend to put off unless there’s a crisis? 
  • Is being in His presence a joy? 
  • Do you yearn for His presence?

Jesus knows the answer to every one of these questions and the good news is this: He knows those of you who don’t really want Him that much. The good news is, He still invites you to seek Him. Even if you don’t want to, you need to. You know that, so seek Him! I promise you (like we kept repeating) you will find Him.

John 5:39–40 says (and pay attention to this verse!); this is what Jesus told the Pharisees. 

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. 

I believe, sometimes, we commit the same error. We go to the Scriptures like, “Okay, I read. Check. I answered that question. Check.” Meanwhile, the purpose of the Scriptures is to take us to Jesus. That’s what Jesus said. “They point to Me, and you won’t come to Me.” How many times have we done the Scriptures but have not come to Him? The Bible was written to reveal to us who God is.

May we heed the advice Jesus gave the Pharisees, and may we come to Him. God also said something very interesting. I was talking to Dannah. We were talking about the talk, and so I was saying, “Dannah, you know something that has hit me is 1 Corinthians 8:3. It says this, 

But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. 

It’s like God is saying, “I know that person.” Now, when I read that I thought, Well, God knows everybody. But I feel like this verse is saying those that really, really, really love Him, it’s like He says, “Oh, I know her!” I feel even when I read that, that He wants you to make yourself known to Him.

Remember when your child was little and they were telling you a story in the cutest way? And you knew all about it. Like, you knew exactly what they were talking about. But it was so cute the way they spoke to you and the way they talked to you and the way they said it that you just get joy in listening to them tell you whatever it is they’re telling you.

Are you with me? Do you know what I mean? But that child is, in a way, showing you how they are, the way they speak, the way they breathe, the way they say it. My son couldn’t say his “th’s.” I would, on purpose, want him to say words so that I could hear his “Jonafan.” There was a waitress in a diner that we go to whose name was Kathy. And he would go, “Hi, Kafy!” (laughter)

And she would go, “Ooh, say it again!” And he was like two or something, he didn’t understand. “Kafy.” I’m not really being silly, but I just feel like even when you say, “Oh, Lord, I love You. I need you. I’m pitiful. I’m telling You the truth!” I feel like the Lord goes, “Come here, Honey, come here. Talk to me some more.”

Do you not know that He wants you. He wants you! Do you believe that? Can you believe that? He wants us! He wants you to come to Him with everything. First of all, He knows it, so why are you hiding? It’s like, I don’t know, sometimes we just get phony, even with God—who knows it all!

The Word of God is so important because the Holy Spirit uses it to illumine your mind. 

But I think of people that loved God and walked with God. Don’t you read, sometimes, biographies of people that had like an amazing walk with God and it makes you jealous in a good way? You know who makes me jealous? Enoch. What is up with Enoch? “Oh, he journaled!” There wasn’t even a Bible! (laughter)

But we’ve been saying the importance of the Bible, so when I was telling this to my husband I was saying, “The Bible is the only thing that will start showing you how far you are and how near you need to be. The Bible is the only way that you’ll understand how your mind is off, how your mind needs to be renewed. The Bible is what tells us that there is a Holy Spirit, that there’s a Father. The Bible tells us all these things.” 

And then I’m telling my husband, “And Enoch didn’t even have a Bible!” 

And so my husband says, “Well, what are you trying to say?” 

And I’m like, “What am I trying to say?”

You see, of all the speakers, I’m the one abnormally born! (laughter) But let me tell you what I mean: it’s the Bible that tells us about Enoch. Enoch walked in such close fellowship, walked, walked . . . that God took him! God took him. [deep sigh] Oh, my goodness, what did he do? I have no idea! I’m serious. There was no synagogue. What did he do?

Well, the Bible tells us in the New Testament that he actually prophesied about the judgment that was coming (see Jude 1:14). So there was a little fire in him, too. “He’s coming to judge!” Oh, my word. But there must have been something about him. There must have been something about this man that loved God in such a way that God said, “Come on!”

It’s the Word of God that has given me a desire to know: what in the world was Enoch like? It’s the Word of God. Here’s a verse that I want to point you to: Hebrews 4, verse 12. . .but I want to read it to you in the New Living Translation, because it’s just amazing.

Here’s the verse (some of you know this well): “For the word of God is alive and powerful.” Before I even finish, your personal devotional life totally depends on you being able to spend time with His Word—a lot! I want to say every day. But I will tell you that there are some Sundays that I get up early, get ready for church, choir rehearsal, church happens. 

We read the Scriptures on the PowerPoint, and we look and we open up our Bibles in the service. But there are times when Sunday is actually a day I may not read, in the sense of the way I normally read. 

But what you need more than anything else, if you want to have victory in your life, if you want to know Jesus Christ really well, if you want to please Him, you will never be able to do that unless you become a person that loves the Word of God! Because, look what the Word of God does: it is 

. . . alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. [Now listen carefully here.] It exposes [don’t miss this!] our innermost thoughts and desires. 

Don’t miss that! It exposes your thoughts and desires. Sometimes the greatest revelation you need is to understand the condition of your heart! Can you say “amen”? Your thoughts, your desires, He knows them! And when you’re ready to let truth, His truth—Christ, the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit—expose your truth. 

You come to Him, holding nothing back, He will receive you, and He will give you all that you need to be completely devoted to Him!

The Word of God healed me many years ago. I was insanely jealous! “Insanely” is putting it mildly! I was just married and my husband worked for a Christian television network. Everybody that worked in that place looked like they were ready for primetime! Do you know what that means? They all looked beautiful! All the ladies there looked beautiful to me, and I was very insecure. I got very jealous, and if you were pretty, I did not like you! 

I want to tell you something. It got so bad, my mind got so crazy that I scared myself, and I took myself to a Christian biblical counselor. I sat down, and I told her that I was very jealous and that my husband couldn’t look at anything too long. If he looked at this microphone here: “She’s little! She’s just hiding in there!” That’s how I felt!

I mean just, “What’s he . . .?” It was unbelievable! I would have dreams that my husband was unfaithful to me, and I’d wake up from the dream and go, “Gr-r-r-r-r!” Crazy! So I went to see this counselor, and I’d sit down and I tell her everything. I talk, talk, talk, talk, talk. And when I was done, she’d said, “Are you done?” 

And I said, “Um, I think so.” 

Do you know what she very sweetly said (I always want to repeat this, because she didn’t say it with a mean spirit)? Do you know what the first words out of her mouth were? “Dámaris . . .” (That’s my name, by the way, Dámaris; not Demetrius, not Dionysius the Areopagite. It’s Dámaris.)

She said, “Dámaris, I rebuke you!” In Spanish it’s: “¡Yo te reprendo!” (laughter) Oh my goodness! But she said it in such a sober way. I don’t know how to tell you this, only God can “hit” you with love! 

She said this to me: “It is obvious you are not a woman of the Word.” And I wasn’t. And she said, “Here’s what I’m going to tell you to do: you and your husband are going to start reading the Bible together. You choose how much, how little, you choose what.” She didn’t even give us where to go. “You two decide. Sit down, start reading the Bible together, and your husband will close in prayer.” 

God healed my mind as I began to “eat” the Word of God! (applause) Do you want to have a wonderful, personal devotional life? You need to love His Word. And you need to let His Word show you what’s wrong.

God’s Word is still changing me . . . and it’s still changing you. It’s showing us every day to seek Him. Pray with me.

Heavenly Father, You are real! You sent Jesus. Jesus, You are real! And You promised us the Holy Spirit. And Holy Spirit, You are real, and Your Word truly is powerful! It does expose our thoughts—how wrong we are, how far we are, how confused we are, how in error we are! 

And yet, Your Word also tells us that You can straighten us out, that You can heal our minds, that You can save our souls, that You can wash our sins, that You can give us “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8 KJV). 

It’s Your Word. Thank You for Your Word and teach all of us to have a real, personal relationship with You every single day! In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.