Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Daily Devotions: Duty or Delight?, Part 3

Leslie Basham: What goes through your mind the first thing each day? Do you immediately start worrying about all the tasks ahead of you, or do your thoughts turn to the Lord and His Holy Spirit who strengthens and leads us? Today Nancy will tell us about someone who developed an important habit every morning that affected his entire day.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: My dad was not from a Christian background. He came to know the Lord in his mid-twenties, after a life of waywardness and rebellion, with a very dramatic conversion to Christ. Early in 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. From the time that he was in his mid-twenties until the time 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 was a very busy man. He had a business and was actively involved in a lot of things in our community and in a lot of kinds of ministries. His schedule was always very full. Our home was always a very busy place, kind of a beehive of activity in ministry. But no matter what time he got to bed the night before, no matter what he had to do the next day, no matter what appointments he had on his calendar, there was one appointment he wasn't going to miss.

Before he had breakfast, before he got into his day, before he read any other reading material he was going to be in the Word and on his knees. That's one of the reasons, by the way, we didn't subscribe to a newspaper in our home. It's also a reason we didn't have a television in our home. He was concerned these were the kinds of things that kept so many believers from really setting aside quality time to grow in their relationship with the Lord.

He felt it was so important to begin each day in the presence of the Lord. This was something that was more natural to him, I think, than breathing. He just could not have lived without it. That wasn't a legalistic thing in his life; and it wasn't something he mandated for us, it's something he modeled to us. Let me just say as a daughter, what an incredible thing it is in the lives of your children for them to see that their parents know the value of putting God first in their day.

Moms, you can make a lot of mistakes with your children and you will, as my parents will be the first to say that they did in our busy home with seven children. A lot of things they didn't do right, a lot of things they would like to have done differently. God will make up a lot of ground and a lot of allowance in your family--and your children will--if they know that the number one priority in your day, the most important thing in your life is your relationship with God, not just because you say that it is, but because that's what you're really prioritizing in your schedule. I'm so thankful to have grown up in a home where my parents showed (us) the importance of seeking God as the number one priority in our day.

It's also been helpful to me, as I've read through the Scriptures, to find some wonderful examples in the Bible of men and women who had that same kind of commitment, who put God first. I think of David in the Old Testament. David was a shepherd, a poet, a king, a military general. And I wonder if we could have asked David, "What is the number one thing you want in your life?"--do you think he would have said, "I want to be known as a great king, I want to win some more battles"? David tells us in the Psalms exactly how he would have answered that question.

We read it in Psalm 27:4, where David says, "One thing have I desired of the Lord," (if I could only ask God for one thing, here's what it would be) "this is what I seek:" (This is the thing I make a matter of preoccupation. This is what I focus on during my day.) David says, "I want to dwell in the house of the LORD" (every day of my life) "all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in His temple." What's David saying? The number one priority of my life is to live in the presence of God.

Most of us are familiar with the story in the New Testament. You find it in the Gospel of Luke 10, of the two sisters who hosted Jesus in their home for a dinner. Actually Martha was the one who did most of the hosting. She was the "hostess with the mostess." My mom is that kind of woman. She really has such a gift of making people feel welcome and preparing meals and events so they just all turn out right. In this case, Martha had invited Jesus to dinner.

When Jesus came, it wasn't just Jesus. It was His band of hungry followers who were with Him as well. So she had invited at least, these thirteen men over for dinner. Who knows who else was with them! As I read the accounts here, we only have several verses at the end of Luke 10, so we have to supply a little imagination. I've spent enough time in the kitchen with company coming to have a little bit of a feel for what Martha may have experienced that day. She was the Martha Stewart of her day. Even Martha Stewart has days when not everything comes together right.

I think it was maybe about the time that she realized that the timer went off for the bread signifying it was done, but she realized she had forgotten to turn on the oven that had the meat in it. All of a sudden all her lists and plans all became a big mess. She realized things were not coming together, there was more to be done, it was time to eat and everything wasn't prepared. I don't know if she started wondering how this would make her look as a hostess, but I do know she looked around and realized her sister was nowhere to be found.

The one who could have been helping her, lending a hand, was not there. You just kind of sense in this passage the steam is kind of building up. Then comes the moment when she realizes her sister is in the living room with the men. All of a sudden she's had it. It's been in there simmering, but now like a pressure cooker she exploded. She is upset, frazzled, frustrated, frenzied and she's lost it.

Now maybe that's never happened to you, but it happens to me regularly. I don't know what it is about kitchens, but it happens to me often in the kitchen. It's not just in kitchens. Sometimes it's in the office. Sometimes...it often happens when we are around those whom we know the best, and we just let our hair down. They see the real us when we explode.

Martha begins to rebuke Jesus for the fact that her sister is not there helping her. She says, "Jesus don't you care that she has left me alone here to do this all by myself?" Then she says, "Tell her to come in and help me." Do you ever find yourself telling God what to do? That's exactly what happened here. Jesus has words for Martha and me and for you and for all of us in those Martha moments.

"Martha, Martha you are bent out of shape," (that's in the original language--no, it's not!) "You are troubled about so many things, but Martha if you could only realize there's one thing in life that really matters. We're so glad that we could be at your home today. Thank you for this dinner, but I want you to know I didn't come here for the dinner. I came here because I want a relationship with you. We don't have to have five courses. We don't have to have the meat and the bread all at the same time and the table doesn't have to be a Martha Stewart setting. We can have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches."

I am supplying some imagination to the text. If you are not looking, everything I just said is not in that text. This is kind of what I picture is happening. Jesus is saying, "Your sister, Mary, has made a choice to spend time with Me. I won't always be here. You won't always be able to do this. So Martha can you let something go so that you can make that choice?" You see, the choice that Mary has made is something she will carry with her all her life. Out of that choice will come sweetness, fruitfulness, a blessing and a fragrance from her life to those she is exposed to.

As I read this account, I am reminded of the many frazzled moments in my own life. It happens in the course of any given week, sometimes several times in a given day. Then I hear Jesus' words to Martha calling me back to the one thing that matters most, that I spend time in the presence of Jesus. That doesn't mean I won't get other things done. In fact, I believe I'll be able to get more things done and the right things done if I have spent that time with Jesus.

In our next sessions, we are going to talk about how to spend time with Jesus; why it's important and the purpose for that daily devotional time, that quiet time, that holy hour. It's not as important what you call it. It is important that you get that time. Let me point out something we see from Mary's life. That is, that this time won't just happen in your day. It requires a conscious, deliberate choice.

When you say "yes" to spend time alone with Jesus on a consistent basis, it means that you are also saying "no" to some other things. There are some good things you won't have time for. There are some things you will have to put aside. There are some times that you'd like to be with a crowd of people, but you are going to say "no" to that because you want to spend time alone with Jesus.

Is that a choice you are willing to make? It's not an easy one. It's not one you make once and for all. It's a daily choice. If I don't get anything else done in my day, I'm going to cultivate my relationship with Jesus in the Word and in prayer.Leslie Basham:

You can get a copy of A 30-Day Walk with God in the Psalms for a suggested donation of $15. We also have a copy of the broadcast if you would like to share what you have heard today with a friend. It's part of a two-part series called Daily Devotions, Duty or Delight. It's available for a suggested donation of $8. To order the book or cassettes, just call us at 1-800-569-5959. Or order on-line at www.ReviveOurHearts.com.

Over the next few days we are going to dig into the subject of daily devotions. Tomorrow we'll address the question of, "What is the purpose of having daily devotions?" Now here's Nancy to encourage us in prayer.Nancy Leigh DeMoss:

Our hearts say, "We want to know You." I pray that You would show us how to make that the number one priority in our lives and in our days. Teach us, Lord, how to put You first. Then may our lives bring glory to You as a result. I pray in Jesus' name. Amen. 

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