Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Daily Devotions: Duty or Delight?, Part 7

Leslie Basham: Imagine getting an invitation to meet with someone you hold in very high regard. Would you think of meeting them as a difficult chore? It's Tuesday, January 15; and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

In the pages of Scripture, you've received a special invitation to spend time alone every day with the God of the universe. That's an awesome thought. So why do we think of a daily quiet time as something we have to do rather than something we get to do? Here's Nancy Leigh DeMoss to continue a series called Daily Devotions: Duty or Delight?

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: In his book called Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life, Don Whitney paints a wonderful word picture that encourages me in this whole matter of daily devotional life. He says, "Think of it. The Lord Jesus Christ is willing to meet with you privately for as long as you want. And He's willing, even eager, to meet with you every day! Suppose you'd been one of the thousands who followed Jesus around for much of the last three years of His earthly life. Can you imagine how excited you would have been if one of His disciples came to you and said, 'The Master wants us to tell you that He's willing to get alone with you whenever you're willing and for as much time as you want to spend, and He'll be expecting you most every day'"? What a privilege. Who would have complained about this expectation? Well, that marvelous privilege and expectation is always yours." He says, "Exercise this privilege and fulfill this expectation for the glory and enjoyment of God forever."

One of the things that really impacted my whole perspective on the daily devotional life was realizing that this was not just something I had to do. This was not just something to check off my to-do list. This was an invitation from God to spend time alone with Him every day. In fact, I love that phrase in the Book of the Psalmist Solomon, where the king says to the bride, "Let me see your countenance and let me hear your voice. For your voice is sweet and your countenance is beautiful" (Song of Solomon 2:14). What a picture that is to me of the invitation that God issues to each of us on a daily basis.

You know, as I go into my quiet time, I want to see God's face; and I want to hear His voice. But have you ever stopped to think that God wants to see your face? And He wants to hear your voice? As I think about that I say, "Lord, why would you want to hear my voice or see my face?" I don't know why, except that He's a God Who wants relationship. And so I say, "Lord, here I am. I'll let You look at my face. I'll let You hear my voice--because You've said that pleases You."

Now in the paragraph we just read from Don Whitney's book, he highlights one of several general principles that will help us in general practice of a devotional life. And I think the most important one is that this needs to be a regular time. The Scripture teaches us that Jesus often withdrew from the crowds to spend time alone with His Heavenly Father.

You remember that when the tabernacle was built in the Old Testament that there was incense to be offered every morning and every evening. There were candles that were to be lit every morning and every evening. There were sacrifices that were to be offered every morning, every evening, morning and night, morning and night, morning and night. Now you may be thinking, Didn't that get to be a little repetitious? Didn't that get to be, perhaps, a meaningless routine? The answer is yes. For many of the Israelites and even for many of the priests who were doing those exercises, it did become at times a meaningless routine.

But one of the things I've discovered in my own walk with God is that it's easier to breathe fresh life into a routine that's gone stale than it is to start up a routine which you don't have at all. The fact that every day is not as meaningful a time with the Lord, in terms of our own senses and emotions, is not really the issue. You know, not every meal that I eat is a great feast. I have a habit, when I'm at home, of eating a bowl of cereal in the morning. I'm not crazy about cereal. It's not the best food I ever eat, but it's part of a balanced diet. It's part of a routine. I find that as I eat a balanced diet over a period of time, though not every meal is a feast, yet I experience the benefits of health and well-being in my body because of the routine of eating correctly.

Dwight L. Moody said, "A man can no more take in a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough for the next six months or take sufficient air into his lungs at one time to sustain life for a week. We must draw upon God's boundless store of grace from day to day as we need it." I

I just want to say that I've come to believe that it is absolutely impossible for me to be the woman God wants me to be, for me to reflect the image of Christ, if I do not have in my life an established habit of meeting daily with the Lord in the Word and in prayer. That doesn't mean I won't ever miss a day. It doesn't mean it will always be as long or as meaningful as I would like for it to be, but it does mean that there will be an established habit in my life of meeting with God alone in the Word and prayer. I believe what's true for me is true for you as well--that you cannot be the woman, the wife, the Mom, and Grandma, the employee, the church member, the Bible teacher, the friend, the neighbor, all those demands you have on you, you can't be the woman God wants you to be, in all of those roles, apart from consistent time spent in the presence of God, in the Word and in prayer.

Now I want to share another characteristic or another important aspect of the practice of a devotional life. I used to kind of shy away from saying this because as soon as I do, I can hear the objections, I can see them in your brows as soon as I say this. But I don't back up from saying this anymore, because I believe the Scripture stresses the importance that this daily time with the Lord, insofar as possible, be early in the day--that we begin our day with time with God. We have seen that this was the practice of Jesus. God said to Moses, "Be ready in the morning and come up to meet me on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on the top of the mountain." In the Psalms, we see this over and over again. The Psalmist said, "In the morning my prayer comes before You. My voice shalt Thou hear in the morning, O Lord. In the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee and will look up (Psalm 5:3). Awake my soul, (now this is a phrase I really don't like) I will awaken the dawn." That's hard for me to think of awakening the dawn; but in the first parts of the day, when the mercies of the Lord are new and fresh, it is so important to get some time to capture His heart and let Him capture our hearts, to devote that day to the Lord, as it were, to tune our instruments before the orchestra starts to play.

How many of you would say, "I'm not a morning person?" Several in this room, about half. And I would say that I'm not a morning person. I'm not one of these people who bounds out of bed at 5 o'clock in the morning, eager to open my Bible and get on my knees. But I have found that it's so important, whatever time I do start my day, to make sure I start it with some time recognizing God's presence, letting Him say something to me from His Word, that will direct my path for that day, committing that day to the Lord.

Now it may be that you have more extended time with the Lord later in the day. Perhaps when your children go down for a nap or perhaps in the evening, if you're really one of those night people. But I'll say this. I believe that any of us could become morning people if we'd go to bed at night. For most of us that's really the issue. We've developed a habit. Now I'm not pointing out anybody here. I'm just saying that the reason most of us are not morning people is that we stay up at night. That's why I'm so thankful in our home we didn't have, as I was growing up, a television. So we weren't having these endless things at night that were keeping us awake with things of the world. My dad was so faithful about getting himself and us to bed at night so that, in his case, he could make sure to have that quality time with the Lord in the morning. So, that time with the Lord in the morning starts with the night before.

You say, "Nancy, how early is early?" I don't know what early is for you because you have a different life than I do. Each of us is in a different season of life. I know for me, because I work out of my home, early for me is before the phone starts to ring. I know about when it's going to start to ring. And I know that if I haven't taken time before that happens to quiet my heart before the Lord, once I start into the business of my day, it's going to be extremely difficult to get a quiet heart later in the day. So ask God to waken you as Isaiah says in chapter 50, "He wakens me morning by morning."

If you want to get up and meet with God in the morning, don't put yourself on a guilt trip and say, "OK, from today on I'm going to go home, I'm going to set my alarm clock for 4:00 o'clock in the morning, and I'm going to read this many chapters and I'm going to pray this long." Listen, God is looking for relationship. He's not looking for you to do your devotions. He's looking for you to have devotion. So as you go to bed at night, try this. Say, "Lord, I want to meet with You in the morning. You know what time I have to be at work. You know when I have to get these kids off to school. You know what time I have these things that are requirements in my life. Would You awaken me when You want to meet with me?" "He wakens me," Isaiah says, "morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen as one being taught" (Isaiah 50:4). Say, "Lord when would You want to wake me up?" And then be willing to get up when God says, "This is the time that I want to meet with you."

Leslie Basham: We've been given an invitation to spend time every day with God. Nancy Leigh DeMoss has reminded us to take that invitation seriously. You can hear Nancy wrap things up in a minute. And you can read more about the importance of developing a daily quiet time in Nancy's book, A Place of Quiet Rest. It will help you overcome excuses you find yourself making about why you don't spend time with God. It will give you a glimpse of the joy that comes from close communion with Him. A Place of Quiet Rest has just been released in paperback and is available for a suggested donation of $13 from our Web site, ReviveOurHearts.com. While you're there, you can find out how to order a tape of today's program. It's part of a two-cassette series called Daily Devotions: Duty or Delight. The series is available for a suggested donation of $8. You can also order by phone. Give us a call at 1-800-569-5959. While you may spend time at your church singing praise to God, do you ever sing during your quiet time at home? We'll address that question tomorrow. Now, with a final thought, here's Nancy.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: I don't know where you are in this matter of a devotional life, a quiet time, a holy hour. But could I just invite you to ask God to take you to the next step of wherever you are? Perhaps you've not had a regular habit of meeting with the Lord. Would you just say, "Lord, I want to start developing a discipline of meeting with You regularly?" It may not be for long periods of time initially. You may find, as you get into it, that you have more and more desire once you get the habit established. You may find that you want more time to spend with the Lord. You don't have to tell young people who are courting each other that they should spend time with each other. They want to be together. You don't have to tell newlyweds to schedule time together. They want to be together. As our love for the Lord grows, we will want to be with Him. Would you be willing to say, "Lord, if You're really serious about this morning thing, would You waken me at the time You want to meet with me? Whenever it is, Lord, my heart will say, 'Yes, I'll meet with You.'"

Leslie Basham:  

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss is a ministry partnership of Life Action Ministries.

 

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.