Preparing Your Heart to Meet God In Your Quiet Time
As we think about what we need to do to get ready to meet God, let us first reflect on where we are at in our Christian lives. We helped you get an overview of your devotions by the time chart. There were two reasons for this self-examination.
1) First of all we wanted you to understand how bad or good your devotions really were. We simply asked you to evaluate how well or poor your devotional times have been. We often ignore the parts of our lives that are doing poorly. Our pride overlooks the importance of those weak areas.
How have you honestly been doing? Some have gone quite low on the charts. These in the large part are those who sense they are antagonistic or skeptical toward meeting with God. They have to some degree become hardened. Whatever our past has been like, our goal is to have each of our spiritual temperatures to go up!
2) More important even still, though, is your the second question. Where do you want to go in your relationship with God? Where did you put your circle next to the thermometer? In a sense we will get what we desire. "And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you." (Luke 11:9).
My hope is that we will all have enough faith to at least raise our marks up several notches. We could all say that it should be "10", but if we are honest, we are not all willing or believing we could get there. Perhaps it is best to say that we would like to improve from where we are by our next birthday or in six month's time. With this clear goal before us, we can take steps that we know we need to take right now so to get there. Then we can take further steps in the following year.
Here are six attitudes we need to work on for good devotional times. All six are themes implanted in Psalm 130.
1. Desperate for the Lord's help (Psalm 130:1)
Those that want to meet with the Lord have been touched by God in the past. This experience has been impressed on them and helps serve them as to what we can expect from God in the future. We know from our past experience of salvation that He can help us despite our difficult situations. Salvation will always stand out as the greatest work God has done for us.
Very difficult or oppressive situations make us very vulnerable. We need Him. We know that if He does not help us, then we will go down under.
Unfortunately for some Christians, they do not rightly understand the Lord and His work of salvation. Even salvation for them was just a way to get something better. They were not convicted of their sins. They were not desperate for the Lord. Their salvation experience then does not stand out as the backbone of their faith. If this is true with you, you should seriously question whether you are truly saved.
After reading the verses above, can you say that you have ever called out to the Lord in desperation? If so, remember this often. The Passover was designed to help the Old Testament saints to remember God's great salvation from Egypt. The Lord's Supper is used in the New Testament to regularly remind us of our great need for Him and the way He rescued us.
"Out of the depths I have cried to Thee, O LORD. "
2. Dependent on God for daily needs (Psalm 130:2).
We desperately need the Lord for salvation - for life itself, but we also need Him for daily living. If a person thinks that he can get by a day without the Lord, then he will not sense a need to meet God. We find this need of the psalmist in Psalm 130 as well as in Jesus' own life.
Jesus quoted the OT in Matthew 4:4, "MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD." Note how man is dependent every day for God's Word. Do you believe this? If you believe it, then you will not go a day without deeply drinking God's Word into your spiritual life.
Here is an exercise to increase your spiritual appetite.
You only can eat on the days that you meditate on God's Word! No physical food is allowed unless you have taken in your needed spiritual food. This exercise is not trying to say that physical food is not important but only that it should have equal importance in your life.
"Lord, hear my voice! Let Thine ears be attentive To the voice of my supplications."
3. Sensitive to our sin (Psalm 130:3,4)
We need to obey God. We have lots of excuses, but there are no good ones! Every conscious sin demands immediate repentance and turning back to God's way. We must have a zero tolerance for disobedience. Our life is in the Lord's hand, not our own. The psalmist knew that if God would mark his iniquities (open disobedience), then he would be in dire trouble.
Can you see your sin? If so, can you admit and forsake it? One family member just came to me confessing their hidden sin. It took them about 20 hours before they could humble their heart and confess their offense. How long does it take you to confess your sins before God and others? Cut down the time it takes. If our hearts harden themselves toward God, then we will not be able to meet with God.
"If Thou, LORD, shouldst mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand?"
4. Confident of forgiveness (Psalm 130:4)
Some people get hung up on whether they feel forgiven. They condemn themselves and even though forgiven, they still act as if they are not. They have allowed a wrong perception of God and themselves to destroy their faith. The psalmist says, "But there is forgiveness with Thee, That Thou mayest be feared."
Romans 5:1-2 powerfully adds,
"Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God."
We find that through Christ we have gained an introduction by faith. God's grace through Christ enables us to come before Him. It does not matter how we feel about the wicked things we have done. The most important thing is God's work in Christ. If a person is forgiven, then he must act forgiven and come to God. We might be humbled, but we will come. There is no other place to go.
"But there is forgiveness with Thee, That Thou mayest be feared."
5. Waiting for the Lord (Psalm 130:5-6)
The Lord wants us to wait for Him. This is the way He tests our hearts. Remember how King Saul got impatient with God's ways when things were not done in his own time (cf. 1 Samuel 13:10)? God hated that. He doesn't like it when we cram devotions in and really do not wait for Him to speak. God wants us to wait for Him because only He has the answer. We can't do without Him. So we wait.
The Lord fully understands there are times that we cannot have regular meetings with Him because of emergencies or sickness. God is not being legalistic at these times. One should not feel guilty. God uses what we have stored within us to strengthen us at those times.
But laying sick on your bed, do you cry out to Him for help or does one complain and fuss about being there? Even here you and I display our heart attitudes. (For more on 'Waiting upon the Lord.')
""I wait for the LORD, my soul does wait, And in His word do I hope. My soul waits for the Lord More than the watchmen for the morning; Indeed, more than the watchmen for the morning."
6. Hope and expectation from God (Psalm 130:7-8)
We need to be honest as to what we expect when we meet with God. Positive thinkers are wrong in thinking their thoughts control events. They are right, though, in linking the faith of a person with what he in the end receives. Read the psalmist's response in verses 7-8.
He does not just think the Lord will make things okay, but He has such confidence in the Lord about his situation that he encourages everyone around him to hope in God. His hope does not make God do anything. Instead his hope tunes him in to God's purpose and ways.
Do you come a bit disgruntled because He asks you to get up early or stay up late? Are you despondent as you open the pages of His Word? This reveals a needy heart. Let us put aside our critical hearts and get excited with the Psalmist in the way he anticipates God's work in his life.
"O Israel, hope in the LORD; For with the LORD there is lovingkindness, And with Him is abundant redemption. And He will redeem Israel From all his iniquities."
The quality of your personal devotional time is greatly impacted by God's regular involvement in your life. The above six points highlighted special areas that affect our times with God. There are other areas not mentioned. These, however, have been mentioned so that we will ask God to ready us to meet with Him. Even this we cannot do on our own.
What are we to expect from our devotional times? Let's look at four special things that should happen to us at every meeting with God. Next