March 26, 2002
...in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength..."
Isn't it humbling to think that the Supreme Being Who created the heavens and earth, our great, infinite God, made us finite creatures of dust and desires our fellowship?
Do we realize what a wonderful privilege we have to be able to communicate with our Maker, Redeemer and Lord?
Thanks be to God for His unspeakable gift! God, in His love, gave His Son to provide a way for fallen man to be reconciled to Him. Through Christ's shed blood at Calvary and His resurrection from the grave, He became our risen Lord, our Mediator, our Great High Priest. It is through Jesus that we approach our heavenly Father in prayer. God has created us for a purpose: "That we should be to the praise of his glory..." (Ephesians 1:12). In order to fulfill that purpose a new birth experience is basic. To keep our relationship with God what it should be we need to have daily communion and fellowship with Him. It is in Him that we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28).
We are considering "A Woman's Personal Devotional Life." In God's divine order it is God, Christ, man, woman. Woman was created a suitable help for man. If married, she is to be submissive to her husband, being subject to him in everything (Ephesians 5:22,24).
Singles and each of us are to submit ourselves to one another in the fear of God (Ephesians 5:21). In James 4:7 we are admonished to submit ourselves to God. As we approach God and His Word we want to do so in an attitude of submission with a desire to grow, to learn, and to obey.
As we think of God's greatness, His attributes and His presence, we remember our own nothingness or unworthiness and our constant need of His grace and help in our lives. We should come to Him in humility and reverence.
Our “personal” devotional life implies time spent alone with God, a time other than our family worship. A time when we read God's Word, meditate on it, and pray. “Devotional” is having to do with religious devotion--a deep, steady affection, loyalty, faithfulness. Devotion to God involves our heart, mind, and life.
...in quietness and in confidence shall be your strength..." (Isaiah 30:15). With a calm spirit and faith in God we draw near to Him and find strength. Proverbs 3:26 says, "The Lord shall be thy confidence." He is the source of our help. "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). These verses encourage us to wait on the Lord, the Provider of strength.
In our quiet time we listen to what God has to say to us as we read His Word. The Bible is His message to us. Before we begin to read, it may be helpful to breathe a prayer asking God to teach us from His Word and open our eyes to the truths therein. While we meditate on God's Word each day in our personal devotions, hopefully we will find at least one verse or phrase especially meaningful to us to take with us throughout the day. We can ponder it further as we go about our work, particularly if we are doing something that doesn't require much concentration. We may want to do some underlining or highlighting as we read our Bibles. To help us to remember special thoughts or verses, we may write them on a paper or in a notebook for our convenient reference.
In the past months I have found it helpful to record some phrases and verses in a notebook and have been memorizing verses with their references. They have become more meaningful as I continue to review them. At times when I am awake for awhile during the night, it blesses my soul to think upon these verses.
It seems best to have a regular time for our devotions when that is workable. My favorite time is the first thing in the morning before getting involved with other activities. Usually I get awake early; both my body and mind are more refreshed than at other times of the day. Also, after a quiet time with God and His Word I feel better prepared to begin the day's work. Sometimes there are other things to do early; then I like to have my devotions after breakfast. The problem with that is that it may get postponed or even forgotten that day. Probably it would be better to arise earlier those days and still have my devotional time first thing in the morning. Our personal choices and circumstances vary, so each of us may discover what time of day is best for our situation.
Do you have a method of Bible reading you are following? It would be interesting to hear from some of you. Reading through the Bible keeps us in touch with its entirety. Brother Stephen Ebersole's booklet, Knowing Gd Through Daily Bible Reading, has two one year plans, a two year plan and a three year plan. The One Year Plan A has a Scripture assigned from both New and Old Testaments daily. Plan B adds a few verses from Psalms and Proverbs to Old and New Testament readings. The Two Year Plan has portions from both testaments, using shorter readings. The Three Year Plan has one, two or more days each month with chapters from Psalms. Most days have only one chapter, using some from both testaments each month. (A friend gave me one of Brother Stephen's booklets about seven years ago. I have tried each plan and am starting over again, using a different color pen to mark the year and check off readings.)
There are other plans for reading through the Bible, too, and other records available. There are various other methods of Bible study such as a book study, a character study or studying a certain word or subject. The important thing is to read God's Word to receive soul nourishment each day.
A few of the Bible verses that encourage reading are: Colossians 3:16a–“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.” John 5:39– “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” 2 Timothy 3:16,17–“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” There are some worthwhile books of daily devotions or meditations which may add inspiration to our quiet time. However, these should not take the place of reading the Bible.
God speaks to us as we read and meditate on His Word. We may want to respond in prayer at times during our meditation to express gratitude or as we sense a need. Spending time in prayer is a vital part of our devotional life. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16b).
What should our prayers include? Adoration to God for Who He is: the great "I AM," the Alpha and Omega, our heavenly Father and best Friend. We may talk to Him as to a father or friend. He is worthy of our worship and praise. Our prayers should also include thanksgiving: for His daily benefits, for all the natural blessings of life, and for the many spiritual privileges we enjoy. Do we remember to thank Him for the difficult things-and trials we have? Do we count it all joy when we have various tests or temptations? James tells us that the trying of our faith worketh patience and to let patience have her perfect work for our benefit.
Confession should be a part of our prayers. We confess our dependence upon God and our need of His help. We confess any known sin of commission or omission and ask for His cleansing and forgiveness.
Another part of our prayers is intercession as we entreat God in behalf of others. We remember the physical needs and spiritual needs in our congregations and among our relatives and friends.
Our prayers should include supplication for the saints and for those in authority in the church and in the nations.
What a wonderful blessing that we can talk to God at any time or place! Although we have certain times we pray, we also feel the desire at any given moment to just say “Thank you, Lord,” for the beautiful day, for the rain, for keeping me safe even though I didn't notice that traffic light, or whatever it may be. We may want to ask for wisdom as we face a certain errand or task. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5). Or if a person comes to mind who needs our prayers we may intercede at that moment. As we go about our work we can commune with God. We are admonished to “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). When we recognize our dependence upon God, that without Him we can do nothing, it helps us to be in the spirit of prayer.
A few of the numerous familiar promises concerning prayer are the following. In Matthew 7:7–“Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” John 14: 13,14 says, “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, I will do it.” In Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
Jesus, in Matthew 26:41 says, “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” We need the Holy Spirit's help in time of temptation; we are no match for our enemy. The Lord told Simon Peter in Luke 22:31,32–“Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat; But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not...”
There are so many needs to remember in prayer. Some of them we like to pray for daily, others frequently, and probably some at least occasionally. One way to keep these occasional requests in mind is to make a chart about the size of our Bibles, mark it into fifteen sections on each side, numbering them one to thirty (a different group of names to pray for each day of the month). In each block write names of people you want to remember at times. This idea was not original with me, but I have found it helpful in remembering names I want to pray for occasionally. It makes it more personal to mention names of individuals at least sometimes, rather than making a general request for the workers and members in a certain place, etc. We can be more specific about the various needs.
A poet has said that prayer is the Christian's vital breath. I think we would all agree that prayer is important and that there is power in prayer. Jesus Himself, the Son of God, spent time in prayer. Someone wrote: To Christ prayer was more important than food. He rose up before day and went to a solitary place to pray(Mark 1:35). It was more important than the crowds. He withdrew Himself from the crowds into the wilderness and prayed (Luke 5:15,16). To Christ prayer was more important than sleep. He continued all night in prayer (Luke 6:12). What an EXAMPLE! Perhaps we should say as did one of the disciples in Luke 11:1, “Lord, teach us to pray...” Having a meaningful devotional life takes effort, diligence, and discipline, but the rewards are worth all we put into it. Personally, I have much room for improvement.
We are here this morning in the interest of building homes on the firm and only safe foundation, the Lord Jesus Christ. What better way can we be fortified and strengthened for the work than through our daily devotional time with God?
Can we with the Psalmist say–“ O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day" (Psalm 119:97). “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11). “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105).
In the stillness of the morning,
Before a busy day of care,
How sweet to be alone with God,
Through His holy Word and prayer.
“Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22). “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving” (Colossians 4:2). “In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). "In quietness and in confidence shall be your strength."