Steve Damron

The Purpose of the Quiet Time – Part 2

In Articles on March 2, 2018 at 2:29 pm

It is always important to prepare for an upcoming project or event so that things will run smoothly.  It is also important to prepare mentally for a test so that the stress of a test will not hinder one’s memory of the facts retained in studying.  In the same manner, it is invaluable to prepare so that a believer will gain the most out of a personal quiet time.

The story is told of early settlers in the Texas hill country.  They came to a land lush with grasses and giant oaks.  Their livelihood of animal grazing and farming, however, dried the rivers, denuded the soil of the grasses, and allowed cedars to proliferate.  For years the land died under the hard toil imposed on it.  Then in 1928, when hill country farmers began clearing cedars from the land, they noticed a curious result.  The ground in certain areas at first grew damp, then soggy, and finally gave birth to springs of water.  For two generations the cedars had gulped all the water and deprived the settlers of using the soil.  After clearing away the trees, water ran so faithfully in some places that not even a nine-month drought diminished its flow.

Be Focused

The Bible makes a promise to us-if we remove any hindrances to spending time in God’s Word, it will pump endless streams of spiritual grace into our souls.  It will become, as Jesus said, a spring of water welling up into everlasting life.  This story reminds the believer to do what is necessary to prepare his heart for the reading of God’s Word.  When we diligently remove obstacles, the cleansing stream of the Word of God has the ability to flow into our hearts and renew us.

Be  Rested

Going to bed on time will immensely help the alertness and receptiveness of the mind to the teachings of the Word of God.  Try as much as possible to avoid late nights and those activities that will disrupt a profitable time with the Lord in your quiet time.  It is understandable that a schedule is not always locked in concrete, and there may come occasional interruptions that one would not expect.  However, many times a believer allows interruptions that hinder a normal amount of sleep and cause wasted and unprofitable effort.  These should be avoided so that the special time with the Lord remains intact.  By protecting this quiet time with proper rest and fewer interruptions, a believer is placing a high priority on fellowship with the Lord.  Maintain a stern discipline here, and God will bless you abundantly for it.

Be Wide Awake

The next step is to make sure that you are wide awake before reading or praying.  Many have found that washing their face with cold water or drinking a hot drink helps to make sure that they are awake.  A believer needs to make an effort to be alert when they come to fellowship with the Lord.  One man said, a cup of tea “helps me to have an intelligent quiet time.”  If you get sleepy on your knees, change your position.  Abraham “stood.”  You can walk and pray out loud if that helps you to concentrate.  Being alert is essential to getting from the Word of God what God desires for you.  Take the necessary steps to wake up, and if you find yourself drifting off, then look at some change in your routine to help in this endeavor.

Be Organized

It is helpful to also have a clean area for reading and praying.  While reading the Scripture, put away distracting objects such as letters, mail, or pictures that may take your mind away from the Scripture and let it wander from the purpose at hand.  In today’s society, it can be common for folks to use a laptop or iPad for their Scripture reading.  During the quiet time, make sure to turn off notifications so that you are focused on God’s Word and not distracted by an update or a news alert.  The believer should desire to have a time of solitude with the Lord that cannot be interrupted by phone calls, texts, updates, newspaper articles, etc.

Be Listening

As you approach your quiet time, it is not always necessary for the believer to do all the talking.  Psalm 46:10 instructs the Christian to “Be still, and know that I am God.”  Stop talking and listen to God’s voice.  In Job 2:13, Job’s friends sat down with Job for seven days and “none spake a word.”  This is something for believers to take note of.  We have lost this wonderful art today of just being quiet.  There is an old hymn that was written at the turn of the twentieth century.  Its title “Blessed Quietness” tells us to seek for that quiet working of the Holy Spirit. The third verse says the following:

 

See, a fruitful field is growing,

Blessed fruit of righteousness;

And the streams of life are flowing

In the lonely wilderness.

Blessed quietness,

Holy quietness—

What assurance in my soul!

On the stormy sea He speaks peace to me—

How the billows cease to roll!

Be Yielded

The believer wants to yield to the leading, guidance, and blessing of the Holy Spirit in his quiet time.  We are speaking of the preparation that should be made, and this working of the Holy Spirit is often forgotten in the daily life of a believer.  The Holy Spirit should be evident in church services and in evangelistic outreach through soulwinning, but the Holy Spirit should be evident in our daily walk with the Lord.  Give the Holy Spirit a chance to work through your quiet time.  Ask Him to be evident in enlightening the Scriptures and in leading your thoughts and prayers as you spend time alone with the Lord.  One of the ways that the Spirit can have free reign in a believer’s heart is to come before Him with a cleansed heart.  “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise”  (Psalm 51:17).

 

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The Purpose of the Quiet Time – Part 1

In Articles on February 15, 2018 at 2:27 pm

What is the purpose of having a quiet time? Many young people start questioning why things are done in their teen years. Many in authority get upset when this happens instead of directing their questions into a meaningful discussion of Biblical authority. The establishment of Biblical authority will cause the young person to become daily dependent on the principles of Scripture. It is important to establish their foundation on the Word of God as they learn to reason and make their own decisions.

Fellowship with the Savior

A consistent quiet time is so important to develop fellowship with our Savior. This is one of the basic purposes of the quiet time. God desires this communion even more than we do. The Father also desires our daily worship. There can be no fellowship without a relationship. This may sound silly to put into writing. However, many folks that say that they love the Lord and would never try to openly disobey the Lord; yet they do not work at developing a relationship with Him. They never know what God is leading them to do, because they never talk to the Lord and go to His Word daily for leading in their life. It is important that we work at a relationship with the Lord. The two items for building an intimate relationship that have been given to us are prayer and Bible reading. If we neglect these two aspects, then we will never have the fellowship that God desires us to have with Him.

Strength for the Day

A second purpose for the quiet time is to gain strength for the day. The Christian life is a battle against sin, the world, and the devil. Ephesians 6:12 says that “We wrestle . . . against spiritual wickedness in high places.” It is vital that we gain strength to face these foes in our daily battles. The great example that is available to us is in the physical realm. There are those that can be extreme in their physical fitness habits, and most would testify that some regular physical activity prepares one for the rigors of daily life. A soldier that is going into battle goes through much physical testing and training. The soldier is preparing his body to endure the hardships of warfare. As a Christian, we face warfare continually from the devil and his demons. It is important that we garner strength to counter the enemies’ attacks. This can only be accomplished with a consistent, daily quiet time of Bible reading and prayer.

Growth for the Believer

The quiet time affords an opportunity for systematic Bible study and prayer. This will help the believer to grow spiritually over time. Maturation is not achieved overnight. Let’s consider an agricultural example. What can a gardener expect in regard to the plant’s maturity after planting seed in his garden? The gardener knows that the plant will only grow if there is consistent sunshine, watering, and weeding for the plant to mature. Notice that there is input into the plant in order for the plant to grow properly. The same is true for the believer. There will not be proper growth in a believer’s life without the input of having a quiet time.

 

The Temperate Life – The Biblical Example of Temperance

In Articles on February 1, 2018 at 4:05 pm

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.  And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.  I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:  But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (I Corinthians 9:24).

The apostle Paul was very much concerned about disciplining his own life. In the passage listed above, Paul uses the illustration of an athletic contest—a race. That was a familiar thing to these Christians in Corinth. The Greeks had two great athletic events—the Olympic games with which we are very much familiar, and the Isthmian games which were held at the city of Corinth every three years. In fact, if you go to Corinth, you can still see the areas where the races were run. The starting blocks where the athletes started out the races are still embedded in the stones. And Paul uses this figure, because, to him, the Christian life is similar to races at these games.

These Corinthians knew that every athlete who participated in the races had to take an oath that they had been training for 10 months, and that they had given up certain foods in their diet to enable them to endure the race. They subjected themselves to rather rigorous discipline in order to win. But Paul says all that they were winning was a “corruptible crown.”  In other words, they were running for a reward that over time would fade.  It was traditionally a pine wreath, but in contrast, the Apostle Paul says that we are running for “an incorruptible” crown, one that is of an eternal nature.

Paul sees life this way. Our aim is to run the race of life in order to be a useful instrument of God; to be used whenever and wherever he wants to use us. That was Paul’s objective. When he woke up in the morning that is what was first in his thoughts; that is what set the tone of his day. He was ready to give up certain indulgences, if necessary, which may have been perfectly right and proper for him at a given time. But if they interfered with his objective to be what God wanted him to be, Paul said he would be happy to give them up. For him the great objective was to win the prize and to feel the sense of delight that he was being used by God.

In this figure of a race that Paul uses, it is obvious you cannot do that if there is no self-discipline. There is always something in life that will distract you if you let it. There are temptations to turn aside, to give up, to sit back and let life go on and enjoy yourself. But all those things will sabotage your Christian effectiveness. That’s what Paul is talking about. And so he says we need self-discipline, we need self-control.

It has been said that discipline is what we need the most in our modern world and what we want the least. So we have a country filled with students dropping out of school, husbands and wives looking for divorces, employees walking out on their jobs and Christians who are becoming unfaithful. Many of them simply don’t have the self-discipline that it takes to see their problems through. They run from their problems, look for the easy way out, and quit when the going gets rough.

Solomon once said, “If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small” (Proverbs 24:10).  Days of adversity are going to come.  We need to understand that and develop the self-discipline to handle them.

To help us understand the concept of self-control better, I want us to look at another verse.  It is found in Proverbs 16:32;  “He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.”   This gives us a very basic definition that self-control is “ruling your spirit.”  In this portion of Scriptures the Bible compares self-control with one who conquers a city, and states that one who can practice self-control is better than one who can overthrow a city.

Throughout history the world has made much out of military victories.  From ancient times we have records of generals and the cities that they have conquered. As we move through time we tend to make heroes out of generals.  I think of two men who became presidents not because of their political abilities but because they were great soldiers—Dwight Eisenhower and Ulysses Grant.  We give our warriors the highest honor and greatest power.  But here in Proverbs 16:32 we are reminded that the simple, private victory of living in self-control is greater than all the great victories of any war.  Let us consider why this is so.

In ancient times before the invention of artillery and heavy ordnance, to lay siege to a city took a lot of energy, time, and manpower.  It took Nebuchadnezzar, who had by far the strongest army at his time a year and a half to take the relatively small city of Jerusalem.

A few hundred years later it took the mighty army of Rome years to accomplish the same feat.  But, the battle of self-control is even greater.

It is greater because the enemy is within.  The battle of self-control is not an external battle but an internal one.  The war of the soul is a civil war.  It is a war between our flesh and our spiritual nature.

Paul speaks of this inner battle in Galatians 5:17; “For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other:  so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.”  For the Christian there is the battle in the soul to do what is right and to do what is pleasing to the Lord.  If you do not have this civil war in you then more than likely you do not have the Holy Spirit in you.

It is also greater because the enemy is unpredictable and cannot be tamed.  In ancient times some races of people were harder to rule than others.  Some would take defeat very easily while others would fight until the last man was dead.  Let us realize that the enemy that we fight in the battle of self-control will not quit until it is dead.  The battle between our flesh and the Spirit will continue all the days of our lives.  There will be no treaty, NO peace until we get to heaven.  The flesh will continue to strive to pull us away from God, to lead us down the roads of temptation and sin.  Our sinful nature will be totally put to death when we are glorified in Heaven with Jesus Christ our Lord.

Self-control also requires a greater effort than storming a city because the enemy has great power at times.  And the enemy, which is our flesh, is given that power by the one who is trying to defeat it.

Can you imagine a general shipping arms and ammunition to the enemy?  Yet that is what we do with our own old, fleshly nature.  We give to it what it needs to hinder our spiritual nature.  We feed it through our own sin, giving in to its desires and lusts.  We give in to the flesh until we have built strongholds in our lives.  And it is our fleshly nature that dwells in those strongholds, waiting for us to try and defeat it.

It also takes a greater effort because the enemy that we are dealing with is subtle.  What does Jeremiah 17:9 tells us; “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?”

Let’s realize that our flesh is always in the state of plotting treason against us.  When all looks safe, that is when it will strike.  Our own hearts are deceitful.  It will lie to you because it is tainted with sin.  It is desperately wicked; prone to turn us from God.  Our flesh strives to have us ignore the Words of God and follow the desires of that wicked heart—the lusts of the flesh in our thoughts, in our actions, and in our words.  Yet, we can defeat our deceitful heart.  We can destroy those strongholds and destroy those walls.  And we can begin that by practicing self-control.