Revive Our Hearts Podcast

A Daily Devotional Life, Day 1

Leslie Basham: Here's Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: If we’re going to be effective servants of the Lord, if we’re going to have something to give to others, we have to cultivate and maintain a growing, vital, intimate love relationship with Christ. There’s no fruitfulness without union and communion with Christ. 

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Monday, January 4, 2016.

One thing that could transform this new year is to spend time each day seeking the Lord in His Word and in prayer. Nancy talked with the staff of Revive Our Hearts and our parent organization Life Action Ministries about developing a daily devotional life.

I hope you’ll listen and make some decisions about how you can grow in this area here in 2016. Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: Some time ago I was in a conference. On the opening Friday night of the conference, a women’s conference, I asked the women to fill out a prayer card and to tell us how we could pray for them—what was on their heart, what were they believing God to do in their lives that weekend.

At the end of that weekend, I took those prayer cards. I don’t know if it was all of them, but I read through a lot of them, and I was just amazed at a thread that ran through so many of those women’s cards. Let me read to you what several of them said.

One said, “I feel I’m out of control sometimes with so many pressures.”

Another said, “I face too much stress and responsibility.”

This one: “I need God to show me how to cope with the stresses at this moment.”

Are you getting the thread here?

Another said, “I feel like I’m torn in all directions. I want God to show me how to manage my different hats of teacher, mother, wife, and daughter successfully and still have time for church work and me.”

This one said, “I need to stop worrying about everything. I try not to, and I know I shouldn’t, but my worries that I conjure up even disturb my sleep and my dreams.”

Here’s one that some of you can relate to, I feel certain: “I’ve given myself up to service for about twenty-four months, and I feel a need to slow myself down and renew myself, but life gets real hectic.”

And then, we’ve got some moms in this room who I know could have written this one: “With a new baby, I need to find the Lord’s peace and rest, physically and emotionally.”

And here’s one I for sure could have written: “I often get overly busy and find my day gone without having done the things I most wanted to do.”

This one said, “I’ve left a whirlwind at home, and I need a renewed spirit to face all that these coming weeks will hold.”

And this one: “I want to slow down. I feel as if I’m on a speeding treadmill, and if I try to jump off, I will stumble and fall.”

And then this one: “I need help with my frazzled, frenzied state.” Anybody relate to that? So often I look at myself in the mirror, and that’s what I see—a woman in a frazzled, frenzied state.

And then this one, lastly, that perhaps all of us have experienced at one time or another, some of us chronically. This woman said, “My busyness has robbed me of my joy.”

Can you relate to some of those? And maybe you, like me, so often think, Once I get to the next season of my life, it will be different. I can just tell you, if you’re in a younger season of your life, it only gets harder. I don’t mean to discourage you, but it’s a fact.

There are a lot of things, so many, many things I love about the Lord Jesus. I love reading in the gospels, beholding Him, and asking God to make me into His image. But one of the things I really admire about Jesus as I read about Him in the gospels is the way that He was able to give Himself in serving God and others day after day with unbelievable responsibilities and to-do lists and demands and deadlines on Him and still maintain this calm, giving, gracious spirit.

You don’t see Him getting frazzled and frenzied.

You don’t see Him being flustered.

You don’t see Him acting like He’s on this treadmill that He can’t get off of.

I look at that so many times, and I just say, “How did He do it? How did He do it? How did He keep that pace and that schedule?” You talk about a long to-do list, a difficult deadline, Jesus only had three years to accomplish the eternal plan of redemption. I’d say that’s a bigger job description than mine.

You don’t see Him being annoyed with people, irritated with people, wishing they’d get out of His way so that He could relax some.

I just ponder this. I’ve pondered it a lot over the years because it’s an area where I’m not like Jesus so much of the time. In fact, if you wouldn’t mind opening your Bible to the Gospel of Mark, chapter 1, let me invite you to turn there. I want us to just look at one day in the life of Jesus.

One day, there were many other days similar to this, but just a snapshot, a glimpse. I want you to see the heart of Jesus in this day, and then we’re going to ask the question, and the text gives us the answer of, “How did He do it?”

Mark chapter 1, beginning in verse 21:

And they went into Capernaum, and immediately on the Sabbath [So this whole day is a Sabbath day. Everything we’re going to read about here is a Sabbath day] he entered the synagogue and was teaching. And they were astonished at His teaching, for He taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes (vv. 21–22).

I’ve given this message many times before in one form or another, but there’s been time for this occasion, asking God to make it fresh, asking God to personalize it to this instance, and laboring to give birth to the ministry of the Word of God. There’s effort expended before; there’s effort expended while you’re pouring out, and there’s effort expended afterwards as you’re ministering to people who’ve been impacted through the Word. It takes something out of you.

I know what it is, as do many of you, to be spent, to be exhausted through pouring out, ministering the Word of God to others. Some of you are homeschooling your children, and you know what it is to pour out yourself and to be spent and to do it with the authority of the Spirit of God and to do it with impact and effectiveness. You know that as you do that, you are being poured out, and that takes something out of you. It’s hard.

Well, not only that, verse 23:

And immediately there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit. And he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are—the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!”

And the unclean spirit, convulsing him and crying out with a loud voice, came out of him. And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.”

Now, we read this text, and we think, Well, I’ve never committed an exorcism. I’m not involved in that kind of ministry. But if you’re a child of God, the Scripture tells us in Ephesians chapter 6 that we’re in a battle. Our enemy is not flesh and blood. The enemy, by the way, is not your mate. It’s not your teenager. It’s not your toddlers.

We have an enemy that’s a spirit enemy. We wrestle with principalities and powers of wickedness and darkness in high places. And we can’t see most of the time—I don’t know that I’ve ever seen literally those evil spirits, those unclean spirits—but they are warring. There’s a cosmic battle going on between heaven and hell, between God and Satan.

Now, we know who wins, but sometimes we get caught in the crossfire. And sometimes you don’t even have to leave your house for this to happen. Some of you moms are at what I think is the hardest season of a woman’s life, certainly the most tiring season of a woman’s life when she’s got little ones. She’s exhausted, she’s sleep deprived, and there’s a spiritual battle going on sometimes with the will of your child, and sometimes with your own will and your own responsiveness to God, and your weariness.

There’s spiritual warfare going on, but there’s something that is taken out of us, I think, when we’re engaged in that warfare, in that battle. Jesus did that, and He cast out those unclean spirits. And He’s working through us. Wherever Jesus went, hell was shattered at His feet.

And then, verse 28,

And at once His fame spread everywhere throughout all the surrounding region of Galilee.

My motto is, “Anybody who thinks they want to be famous, never has been” because once people find out you can help meet their needs, they’re going to be lined up for help. So all of a sudden, Jesus is front-page news of the Jerusalem Gazette or the Capernaum Chronicle, I guess it was in this case.

Amazing teacher with authority casts out demons. He’s headline news. And everybody wants an interview with Him, and everybody wants Him to sign their book, and everybody wants Him to speak at their event. My blood pressure goes up thinking about what this must have been like, at a human level, for Jesus. The fame spread. Everybody wants a piece of Him. He’s human. He’s God, but He’s in human flesh. He doesn’t have any more hours in His day than you and I have in our twenty-four hour day. He had to sleep at night. He had to stop and eat. He had human needs. His fame has spread, and everybody wants a piece of Him. You ever been there?

Well, next verse:

And immediately he left the synagogue and entered the house [His host home] of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.

And you think, “Whew! Man, that was a long day, a hard day, but now I get to go home, close the door, put up my feet, turn on the news, just kick back, relax, and let my hair down.” Right? Well, even in the host home there’s somebody with a need. You been there? Look at it, verse 30,

Now Simon's mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her.

One more person with a need. Did you ever just wish that all the needy people would just go away? But God keeps putting them right there in your path, even when you’re tired, even at the end of a long day of pouring out and ministering, serving in whatever capacity you do that.

Well, as we’ve come to know and love about Jesus, look what He does in verse 31:

And He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, [Those are the times when I’m tempted to say, “Could you come back tomorrow?” But He goes, and He meets her need.] and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

There’s power that goes out. “Whew! Now I’ve got all the people in the host home healed, now we can just kick back, let our hair down, and enjoy a late-night meal, and relax and head to bed at an early hour.” Right? Not a chance! Look at verse 32:

That evening [same day] at sundown [This is the day of rest, remember. It’s not been much of a day of rest for Jesus’ schedule] they brought to Him all who were sick or oppressed by demons.  And the whole city was gathered together at the door.

Now, I don’t know how many people lived in that city, but it sounds like a lot to me. It sounds exhausting to me. Do you feel that way sometimes? People find out you can meet needs. They find out you’re a gifted counselor, or you’re gifted at helping apply the Word, or your children are somehow not turning out to be rebels but theirs are, and they want to know, “How do you do it?”

Or they find out you have a gift of serving, and so they’re lined up to say, “Would you do this? Would you do this? Would you do this?” Moms with little ones, there’s like no place where you can get away from the crowd, right? But you say, “There’s one place. Go in the restroom, lock the door. I’ve got privacy.”

Oh no you don’t. Am I right? These little fingers come underneath the door, “Mommy!”

And you want to say, “My name’s not Mommy. Go and find another mommy.” Right? There’s just this weariness. We want to send the crowds away. Am I the only person who has these feelings? Please say, “No.” Thank you.

All the sick and oppressed, and sometimes you feel like all the people who are gathered at your door are sick and oppressed by demons. It’s like, “What is this? They’ve all got major mega-issues.”

Well, thank God that God cares. God through Jesus, God in Jesus, Jesus being God, and Jesus in us cares about the sick and the oppressed with demons gathered at the door. Verse 34:

And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him.

Now I read all that, and I’m like exhausted reading that. I’m thinking about myself and some similar situations. I think, How does He do it? How does He keep going? He’s doing this in human flesh.

You say, “He’s God.” But He’s doing it as a man in the fullness and the power of the Holy Spirit so we know we can live that life by His grace and the wonder of His life in us. But sometimes I just feel so weak and so frazzled and frenzied, as that one woman said at the conference. How does He do it?

Well, I think the key is found in the very next verse, verse 35 of Mark 1:

And rising very early in the morning, [this is the next day] while it was still dark, Jesus got up.

Now, there’s more to the verse, but let me just stop there a second. I can just tell you that after I’ve had a day like Jesus had on that Sabbath, after I’ve had a weekend of being spent, a long day of work and handling emails and handling phone calls and meetings and handling people and issues, or a weekend conference pouring out, let me tell you, the last thing I want to do the next morning, very early the next morning while it’s still dark, is get up.

He left the house and he went off to a solitary place where he prayed.

He took time away from the crowd because that’s the only time He could be away from the crowd at times, early in the morning. He went away to a solitary place, and He connected to His heavenly Father, at a human level, recharging the batteries.

How many things do you have to plug in at night to recharge—your laptop, your iPhone, your iPad—because if you don’t recharge, they run out of juice. Right? Well, our spiritual batteries have to be recharged.

I want to share in just the moments we have tonight what in the life of Jesus and in our lives recharges those batteries. And, by the way, it was none too soon that He did this because, look at the next verse:

And Simon and those who were with him searched for him and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you” (vv. 36–37).

This sounds like what some of you parents experience at home, right? Or sometimes on the team you hear, “There’s a need. You’ve got to come do this. Your team leader needs you. Your kids need you; everyone is looking for you.”

And Jesus said to them [and I think this is interesting], “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out” (v. 38).

Why leave now? I mean, He’s on a roll. He’s popular. They’re wanting more meetings from Him, but at the height of popularity there, He says, “It’s time to leave.” How did He know it was time to leave? Because He’d just been with His Father who told Him it’s time to leave.

And He went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons (v. 39).

Authentic, effective ministry always, always flows out of union and communion with God. Then, if we’re going to be effective servants of the Lord, if we’re going to have something to give to others, we have to cultivate and maintain a growing, vital, intimate love relationship with Christ. There’s no fruitfulness without union and communion with Christ.

Authentic, effective ministry always flows out of union and communion with God.

That’s why I’m so burdened about this subject, in my own life and in all of our lives, about cultivating an intimate relationship with God through a personal devotional life. Now, people call it different things. I grew up hearing it called “quiet time,” “personal devotionals,” “holy hour.” I don’t really care what you call it, but I hope we all get it.

Cultivating an intimate relationship with God through a personal devotional life. I want to just touch on several areas related to that.

First, the priority of a devotional life; then the purpose. I want to spend most of our time right there, and then a little bit about the practice of a personal devotional life, and then the product.

I’ve written in the last dozen years something like, I think, sixteen books. The first one was on this subject. I feel if I’d never written anything else, that would be the one message I would want to give to women, because I believe that this one practice will make the single greatest difference in your life and mine for the rest of our lives. If you get this, not just in your head but in practice, then God will give you what you need to deal with every other area of your life in every other season of your life.

This matter of a devotional life, a personal devotional life . . . Now, there’s a lot in this room, perhaps, who already have a consistent devotional habit. Some used to have one but stuff has just crowded it out. You’re busy, and it’s fallen by the wayside. And then there are some in this room who have never established this habit of a consistent devotional life.

So I don’t know where you are on this, but at the end of our time together tonight, I’m going to invite you—I’m just telling you in advance—I’m going to invite you to make a commitment, as God is speaking to your heart, for the next thirty days, every day, spend some time alone with the Lord in His Word and in prayer.

It’s just that simple. We call it a thirty-day challenge, and we’ve given it many times through the ministry of Revive Our Hearts. I’m not telling how it has to be, what time of day, or how long. I’m just going to call you to, call us to make a commitment that every day for the next thirty days we will spend some time alone with the Lord in His Word and in prayer. That’s where I’m heading, and that’s what I’m praying and hoping God will do in each of our hearts.

The priority of a devotional life. We’ve seen it in the life of Jesus. Scripture tells us that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed, Luke 5, verse 16.

I think of the psalmist David in the Old Testament. Psalm 27, verse 4 is one of my favorite verses. David was a king, he’s a shepherd, he’s a songwriter, he’s a musician, he’s a military strategist. There are so many things he did well, but he said, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after.”

One thing, David? If you could only ask God for one thing, what would it be? To win battles? To be good at this or that? What would it be? “One thing I have asked of the Lord, that will I seek after.” That’s what I’m going to be intentional about going after. What is it, David? “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.”

To live in His presence, to look on His beauty, and to learn from Him, David says, that’s what matters to me more than anything else in the world. If I don’t get anything else done in my day, that’s the one thing I want to get done in my day.

We referenced the other day that passage in Luke chapter 10 about Mary and Martha at their home in Bethany, and about how Mary sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to His teaching. That was her choice. That was her priority.

And then we have Martha who is distracted with much serving. Man, do I live there so much of the time. It’s a good thing to be serving, but she’s distracted because she doesn’t have a full cup out of which to give to others, so she’s operating on empty. She’s operating on fumes.

Mary’s getting filled up so that she can go and serve others with that which she’s received from Christ. The distraction of busyness, busyness even at good things, ministry things, can keep us from being seekers of His heart.

Busyness even with good things can keep us from being seekers of God's heart.

And so Jesus says to Martha when she becomes demanding, “Lord, tell my sister to get in the kitchen and help me,” and as you find yourself telling God what to do, Jesus says, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and distracted about so many things.” You’ve got your toga in a knot. You’re uptight.

I guess, I’ll just say it takes one to know one for me. I just see myself so in Martha. “You’re anxious and troubled about many things. There’s many things on my to-do list every day. I’ve got lists of my lists. But Jesus says to her, “One thing is needful.” One thing; one thing. “Mary has chosen that good thing which will not be taken away from her” (v. 42).

If I can only get one thing done in my day, I have to come to the place in my life, and this is where I would love to see God bring every one of us, where if we don’t get one other thing done in our day, the one thing we will get done is to meet with the Lord, to be with Him, in His presence, in His Word, in prayer.

So many of our churches where we are serving as a ministry, so many ministries like ours are filled with stressed-out servants. Their eyes are bulging. They’re just out of breath, running, busy. We need to get to Jesus’ feet. And that requires, Jesus said, “Mary had chosen this good one thing.” It requires a conscious, deliberate choice on our part.

I remember talking some time ago with one of our ministry partners who’s got six little kids, including a set of triplets. Her life is just so, so, so full, as you might imagine. I was just asking her, “How do you do it?” Just trying to minister to her. And I was struck when she said to me, “I will do whatever I have to do to start my day with Christ.”

I will do whatever I have to do to start my day with Christ.

I’ll do whatever I have to do. Is that the commitment of my heart? Is that the commitment of your heart when your inbox is overflowing, you’ve got things to do, people to meet, places to go? I’ll do whatever I have to do to get with Christ at the beginning of the day.

I am so blessed and thankful to have grown up in a home with a dad who believed in the priority of a personal devotional life. His name was Art DeMoss. Some of you may have heard of him. He was a businessman. He wasn’t a preacher, although he did a lot of preaching. He loved evangelism and souls and was very active in ministry, but he was a busy businessman.

He didn’t come to know the Lord until he was in his mid-twenties. In the first year of his Christian life, someone challenged him to begin giving to God the first hour of every day in the Word and in prayer. He took that challenge, and from that point until the day he went home to be with the Lord, twenty-eight years later, he never missed one single day—not one—of giving to God the first hour of every day in the Word and in prayer.

He wasn’t legalistic about it, but it was more important to him than eating. He had this motto, “No Bible reading, no breakfast.” And not to read anything else in the day before he was in the Word of God. It was like it was as important to him as breathing—maybe more. He had a kneeling bench, no, a kneeling pad, that he kept pushed under his bed. He actually wore out several of them over the years.

He would be in the Word. His routine varied almost not at all. He would read, as I recall, two chapters from the Old Testament, five Psalms, one chapter of Proverb, and one or two chapters from the New Testament so he was reading consecutively all the time through the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Psalms and Proverbs every month.

Then he would pray. He had a prayer list, a long, long prayer list. I don’t know if he prayed for all those people every day. I don’t know exactly how it worked. I know he prayed for us. And can I just say to moms and dads and to those who someday will be, you’re going to make a lot of mistakes with your kids. My parents did, and they would be the first to tell you that. But there’s a lot of grace that’s going to be extended to your children when your kids grow up knowing that there’s a dad in that home who starts his day on his knees, in the Word, and in prayer, praying for your own soul and the souls of others.

It didn’t matter what he had to do that day, how busy he was, how many meetings he had. It didn’t matter what time he got to bed the night before. Although, he was religious about getting to bed the night before—ten o’clock, I think it was, at night, so that he could be up in the morning.

We laugh about the fact . . . my parents did a lot of ministry in our home. They had a lot of people over. But at ten o’clock, I think it was, he’d be upstairs. He’d say, “Goodnight, you all, turn out the lights and lock the door when you leave.” And he was gone.

The reason he didn’t want a TV in the home, one big reason, he just knew so many people frittered away evening hours with entertainment, mindless entertainment, and then couldn’t get up in the morning to meet with the Lord.

So knowing God and walking with God and having a relationship with God was more important, so important to him that he made it the number one priority of his day, and what an indelible mark that has made on my life as a daughter. I wish I could say I have his record of never missing a day. I don’t have anywhere close to that record.

But I tell you what, when I am prone to hitting my day running—and I battle this virtually every day—I have indelibly imprinted in my mind’s eye an image of a dad on his knees, starting the day in the Word and in prayer, meeting with Christ. That’s the priority of a devotional life.

Now, let me just make sure it’s clear that we’re not talking about a substitute in this devotional time. It’s no substitute for seeking God and responding to Him and listening to Him throughout the course of the day. We’re talking about a set-apart time, to be still. Jesus was listening to His Father all the time, but He took those times away from the crowd to be still, to listen, to commune with His Father.

This whole matter of a holy hour, a quiet time, it’s not a way to make you more spiritual or dissuade your guilt about not being good enough. “I just feel better if I have my quiet time.” Having a quiet time does not earn you brownie points with God. It doesn’t make you inherently a better Christian. It’s meeting with God that makes you more like Jesus.

Just checking this off your list may impress other people, but we’re not talking about a performance before God. We are talking about being intentional, about cultivating an intimate relationship with God through daily times set apart to be alone with Him in His Word and in prayer.

Now let me talk for a moment about the purpose of a devotional life. And I stress this more than the mechanics because I think if you have a desire for this, you will find the mechanics. We’re going to tell you about some tools that will help you with the mechanics. But I want you to go away, if you don’t already have it, with saying, “This is something I have got to have. This is something I want to have.”

I can give you a whole bunch of how-to’s, I’ve written a book actually with some of those how-to’s, I’ll tell you about that, but let me just talk for a few moments here about the purpose of a devotional life.

We could break these into two categories. The first four have to do with our inner life, the benefits we reap in our inner life, the purpose of it as it relates to our inner life. The last four have to do with our outer walk.

So the first four, the first one, and I don’t know if this is the most important, but it’s certainly way up toward the top of the list, the first purpose of a devotional life is communion with God, fellowship, communion with God. We were created for relationship, for fellowship, for friendship.

When the tabernacle was established in the Old Testament, God said to His people, “There I will meet with you and speak to you.” The awesome, almighty God of the universe says, “I will meet with you.” Now we don’t have to go to the tabernacle. He lives in us. We are the tabernacle. We are the temple. He says, “I will speak to you.”

Moses said to God in Exodus chapter 33, “Teach me your ways so I may know you.” We’ve heard things this week about it’s an evidence of salvation if you have an intimate relationship with God. And I’m sitting there, while Steve is preaching, and I’m thinking, I’m thinking a lot of people are wondering, “What does that look like? What does it mean to have an intimate relationship with God?”

You want to find out? Get into fellowship and communion with God through a daily time in His Word and get to know Him. Moses did. The Scripture says, “The Lord used to speak to Moses face to face as a man speaks to his friend” (see Ex. 33:11). We’re talking about relationship here.

The purpose of this quiet time is to know God, to enjoy God. It’s to have devotion. Now there’s a difference between devotion and devotions. I’ve checked devotions off my list many days when I’ve not had devotion. Do you know what I’m talking about? Yep, you had devotions, but you didn’t have devotion because you didn’t experience relationship and fellowship with God. Communion with God is the first purpose.

The second purpose is purification of my heart and my life. This is a time when God can shine the light of His Word into the nooks and crannies of my life, the crevices of my heart, and show me things that I don’t see about myself if He doesn’t show me. “Search me, O God, and know my heart.” Cleanse me. Wash me. I put my life under the blood of Christ. I receive His forgiveness. I’m cleansed. I let God purify my heart with the washing of water by the Word. That’s the purpose of a devotional life.

A third one is restoration of my soul. “He restores my soul.” This world is so loud, so busy, so noisy. It presses in on us, and as we’re giving out to others in whatever role you serve in, we get spent—as we saw Jesus did on that Sabbath. We get used up, and we have to get filled back up. We have to replenish the resources, the inner resources that have been depleted by the crowd. It’s time in His presence that quiets our hearts, that restores our souls, that calms and settles our spirits.

This is where we get renewed in strength and power for going out to serve again. It’s where we get fresh perspective when the world and the ministry has wrung us dry. We get into His presence, and He restores our souls.

It’s time in His presence that quiets our hearts, restores our souls, and calms our spirits.

Number four purpose is instruction in the ways of God—instruction in the ways of God. I love that verse in Psalm 103. It says, “He made known his ways to Moses and his acts to the children of Israel”—Psalm 103, verse 7. The children of Israel knew the acts of God. They looked, they saw Him take them across the Red Sea and provide manna in the wilderness. They saw the acts of God, but Moses knew the ways of God. He knew the heart of God.

I want to know the ways of God. I don’t just want to know His acts. I want to know His ways. I want to know what He thinks, how He feels, what He loves, what He hates. I want to know His ways.

You know how Moses got to know the ways of God? Sitting up on a mountaintop away from the rest of the community, going out to that tent of meeting outside of the camp where he would meet with God, and he would come out, and his face would be radiant with the glory of God. It didn’t happen in a crowd.

Now there are things we can learn in community, but there are some aspects of knowing God and walking with Him in His ways that we only get when we’re alone with Him with His Word, letting His Spirit minister His Word and teach us His ways.

How about our outer walk, some purposes—not just about our inner life, but our outer walk? Number five is submission to God and His will. It’s in this quiet time, this quiet place that my heart and my will get aligned with God’s will. My heart and will are very often out of alignment with God’s will.

I’ve gotten to the age where I’m giving chiropractors some business. I spend a lot of time hunched over a laptop, and my neck and my shoulders sometimes get so tense. Something’s out of alignment. It needs an adjustment.

I get those spiritual adjustments as I have this time in the presence of the Lord as my will is brought into submission with His will, and I get into that time, and I see my will countering His will, and I come to the place where I say, “Oh, Lord, not my will, but Yours be done.” That happens in this time with the Lord.

Number six: I receive direction for my life, my responsibilities, my relationships. Direction. We hear so many voices telling us what to do and where to go and how to do it. The world has so much counsel. Christians have so much counsel. But there are times when we just need to hear His voice. We say, “Lord, I need direction. I need wisdom. What do You want us to do in this situation?”

This is where we get our assignments for the day—talk about direction—to know what is on God’s to-do list for my life that day. What does He want? What’s really important to Him?

We’re so stressed so many times trying to keep all the balls in the air and how often do we stop and say, “Lord, are all these balls supposed to be in the air? What’s on Your to-do list for me?”

I never, ever, ever, ever get to the end of the day and have crossed off everything that’s on my to-do list. In fact, it is impossible in any twenty-four-hour period for me to do everything that is on my to-do list for that day. It’s really impossible for me to do everything in that day that is on everybody else’s to-do list for my day. But here’s a really liberating truth for me: To realize that in every twenty-four-hour day, it is possible for me to do everything that is on God’s to-do list for my life for that day.

That’s why we’ve got to get before Him and say, “Lord, give me my assignments. Which interruptions today should I say “no” to and which should I welcome?”

I had some interruptions in my day, some unplanned, and there are times when you say, “No, I’m supposed to keep going in this direction,” and there’s time when you stop, and you lay down your plans. And God directs our steps as we’re living in His Word and seeking His direction.

“In your light, we see light,” Psalm 36:9 says. “The entrance of your words gives light.” He gives direction.

It is possible for me to do everything that is on God’s to-do list for my life for today.

Number seven, another purpose for the quiet time is intercession on behalf of the needs of others. As we take their needs, the needs of those that we love, the needs of those around us that are so great . . . There are needs in my family right now, heavy burdens I’m carrying in relation to some issues there. There are needs in our ministry. There are financial needs. There are needs in staff members, things they’re wrestling with, they’re seeking the Lord for. There are numerous people I’ve talked with this week who have poured out their heart about something they’re wrestling with in their walk with the Lord.

I cannot solve those needs. I can’t give my sister here that I’m talking with assurance of her salvation or to know how to deal with this issue in her life. But I can lift them up to God’s throne of grace where they can find mercy and they can find grace to help them in their time of need. That’s where we can intercede on behalf of the needs of others.

And then number eight, and this is maybe my favorite. It’s the one I need most for sure. The purpose of a devotional life is that we might experience transformation into His image, transformation into His likeness.

You become like the people you spend time with. Right? In fact, you’ve heard it said that these married couples who are married a long time start to look like each other. Have you ever noticed that? Some of you, that makes you a little scared, but you become like the people you spend time with.

I want to be like Jesus. I think you do, too. But I can tell you that there are so many areas of my life where I am anything but like Jesus. I see my own impatience, my selfishness, my pride, my lack of self-control, my lack of discipline, my besetting sins, my lack of victory in certain areas of my life, and I go, “Lord, I want to be like You.”

Well, you don’t become like Jesus by spending time with all the influences and the input of the world around you, by reading the world’s magazines and TV shows and movies and music, taking all that into your system wholesale. You become like Jesus by spending time with Him.

Paul said it this way in 2 Corinthians chapter 3, verse 18: “We all with an unveiled face beholding as in a mirror the image of the Lord—‘gazing upon Him’ as David said in Psalm 27—as we behold Him, we are transfigured [is the word there] into His likeness from glory to glory even as by the Spirit of the Lord” (NASB paraphrased).

There’s this amazing transfiguring, which is not just being different on the outside; it’s being transformed from the inside out so that you become a whole new person like Jesus who dwells in us. We are transfigured into His image from glory to glory by the power of the Holy Spirit—as we do what?—as we behold Him.

That’s what we do when we open this Book. This is the written Word of Christ the Living Word. So as I behold Him in this Book, and He’s on every page in this Book, from Genesis 1 through the last verse of Revelation 21. As I behold Him, there’s something that is happening inside of me that is being transformed into His likeness.

I don’t know about you, but I want that. I need that. And that’s why I’ve got to have this time.

Leslie: That’s Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth reminding us of the importance of developing a daily devotional life.

I hope you’ll follow up today’s message with some practical next steps. If you’re not spending time in God’s Word and in prayer, developing these habits could transform your life here in 2016. Here’s one way we’d like to help:

Visit ReviveOurHearts.com and sign up for the 30-day Bible Reading Challenge. For thirty days we’ll send you an email encouraging you to keep going in your commitment to read each day. I hope you’ll take this challenge. If you read the Bible each day for thirty days, you’re developing habits that can encourage you to keep reading beyond the challenge.

To sign up for the 30-day Bible Reading Challenge, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Well, Nancy has written about the daily devotional life in a book called, A Place of Quiet Rest. We’ll send you that book when you support Revive Our Hearts with a donation of any amount. Visit our website with your gift, or call 1–800–569–5959.

And thanks so much to all who gave last month as part of our matching challenge. We’re still processing mail and tabulating results. For the latest information on how the Lord provided, visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Well, tomorrow Nancy will be back with part two of this message. Hear some practical ways to eliminate distractions and develop a habit of spending time with the Lord. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the English Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

 

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