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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

A Time Alone with God

It seems very arrogant to admit that I must make myself have a time alone each day with God. After all, He is the Almighty; who am I? Doesn't it make more sense that He would have to force Himself to meet with me? Yet, I have always found Him when I sought Him with my whole heart.

We either lie to ourselves and others or we admit that we cannot live this Christian life without a daily time alone with God. We must go to Him for each day's direction, strength and grace. We will never be able to faithfully walk through life's trials without walking with Him. We will never be able to know His presence by being casual with Him. We will never know His purpose for our lives without listening to Him. We will never know today's real grace without acknowledging Him.

The Christian life is only made complicated by our own maneuvering to make it such. We excuse our inattention to God with complicated schedules. We excuse our hatreds, backhanded remarks and lack of forgiveness as defending ourselves or simply telling the truth or as acts of righteousness because we are acting on His part. Yet, there is no way we can say these things with any certainty if we have not had a direct word from Him. He does not give His word lightly. Our hearts must be in tune to hear it. We need that daily tune up in order to know His word. We need His presence to make sure there is no vindictiveness, envy, greed or any other sin which hides itself as righteous.

This morning God told me something in my time alone with Him that I know that I would never have known otherwise. He said that I (and other Christians) should love so distinctly that the world cannot love like I (we) love. I know that I do not have the ability to do this without coming so close to Him that I love like He loves. I know that I must have this daily time alone with God.

I did not always appreciate my seminary training. Today, I know that I am a better minister because of it. I have learned things that I use almost every day. However, this will never substitute for a time alone with God. The education that He provides does not come with a day on this earth after graduation day. We graduate into His full presence.

So every day is so important in my walk with Him. It is daily that I follow Him, deny myself and take up my cross. And from experience I assure you that the day I don't have a time alone with Him is a day which has already started without following Him, denying myself and taking up my cross.

Then he said to them all, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." Luke 9:23 (NIV)

3 comments:

high-expressions said...

Indeed, it is we have to live out who we are, to be who we are. This used to be the position we are to understand, regarding our position in God; but it no longer, is held by many professing Christians. Rather, such believers are taught, and they embraced it, that they are who they are, regardless.

We all know that there is the faithfulness of God, but it really does NOT mean regardless! Straightforward meaning of scriptures, are now being replaced by novel ideas of men, eisegesis of Scripture rather than exegesis of the Word.

Take the verse, Ps Prentis quoted at the end of his entry, Luke 9:23; it does point to, we still need to live out who we are, followers or disciples of Jesus. Jesus' own words, "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me", the simple exposition of the text is: If you come before the Lord, and you say you want to follow Jesus, become a believer, a Christian, a disciple, Jesus said you must deny yourself, meaning you cannot do as you wish or want. And DAILY, you have to burden yourself with the things your Lord expects of you, to do. Yes, Jesus is your master now; that is what, the word, Lord, means! What is the significance of the use of the word, cross, in the text? Jesus had His Cross, and His Cross was everything which His Master, the Father God, had in mind for Him, Jesus, to do, while Jesus walked on the earth. Jesus took up His Cross daily and followed the Father God. The Cross was NOT just the Cross of Calvary. Jesus repeatedly said that His journey was to do the things the Father had in mind for Him to do, and He, Jesus, would do them and complete them. Jesus said He lived by that - "my food is to do the Father's will". Jesus, before giving His last breath, said, "It is finished". Indeed, it was finished for Jesus; he did all that the Father had wanted Him do, and so, He finished His journey there on the Cross on Calvary.

The Cross of Jesus included everything in His life, His being misunderstood, ill-treated, being ridiculed, being hurt terribly physically, being abused, and finally at the end of His life, be crucified. He, Jesus, could have wanted and went for, all the things that a person with powers (and Jesus was with miraculous powers) would wish or want - wealth, status and fleshy gratifications, but He did NOT; all of these, He denied Himself. It was NOT for a day, or for a week, that Jesus denied Himself or went about carrying His Cross, and then afterwards, He did what common men of the world would do. No, it was He gave of Himself daily.

It is ridiculous for some preacher to say there is no expectation from the Lord! Jesus even said, only those who do the will of the Father will enter the Kingdom of Heaven (Matt 7:21). When we do the will of the Lord (Jesus), we are doing the will of the Father, for Jesus always does the will of the Father. Jesus made it very plain, there, in that verse, just calling Him, "Lord, Lord" will NOT do. When we entered into salvation, we called Jesus our Lord, and we continue to call Him, Lord; but do we, in reality, do the bidding of the Lord, just as He, Jesus, did the bidding of His Lord (Father God), then, while He, Jesus, walked the earth?

Cont...

high-expressions said...

COnt. from above

Now, it is NOT that I have arrived or Ps Prentis has, but we must effort in the direction expected by the Lord. Overly grace or totally grace preachers often argue, we can NEVER make it, to fulfill completely, such expectations, and so, to them, anything that we regarded as expectation, they said it, isn’t (expectation). Well, just because it is hard does NOT mean that we should NOT try; just because we cannot do it perfectly does NOT mean that we are NOT expected to do our best. Even if it is just exhortation of the Lord, we are to do it. Yes, God looks at our heart, and ultimately, it is His call - His judgment verdict, but surely, The Story of Who are the sheep and Who are the goats, told by Jesus, clearly pointed that there is a need to effort in the direction expected by the Lord. We do NOT know how much (good works, etc) is enough, but you and I got to be mindful and actually do what the Lord wants. It is ridiculous to say that the entire life of a believer is to just bask in grace, nothing to do (for the Lord), or he could do anything he wants.

The Story of the Who are the sheep and Who are the goats, clearly implied we just cannot answer to the Lord (ultimately), with ALL "No" - No, I did not do this, No, did not do that, and No, I did not do this other one, either; we just cannot say we did NOT do any of the will of the Lord, and expect God to be alright with that, when we did live on, after entry into salvation.

Many argue, "Oh! The will of the Lord, that I did; in my heart I love men, and I even say, 'I love you' to them!"; but if practically, nothing in love, is done, it will NOT do. In James 2:16, we read that we cannot just tell a brother or sister without clothes and daily food, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

Ps Prentis said God spoke to him, in the time he had alone with God, that he, Ps Prentis (and other Christians) was and is to love SO DISTINCTLY that the world cannot love like he (we) loves. Just on the strength of this, without dwelling into what “so distinctly” means, it is obvious that God cannot be referring to loving by mere words, as chastised by the Apostle James, in the text referred to, above. Perhaps, Ps Prentis could elaborate more according to his receiving of the word of the Lord; but I will venture to say, more people, including Christians, are dropping sacrifice from what is embodied in love.

The world’s in-thing is convenience. If it is convenient, I love, if it is NOT, I don’t have to. When it is inconvenient, and we do it, it is sacrifice. True love embraces sacrifice. The Father God showed, and the Lord embraced that, the very Gospel epitomized love with sacrifice. For the love of men, Father God sacrificed His Son, Jesus Christ; Jesus sacrificed His glory in Heaven, to come down as lowly man born in a manger. Of course, sacrifice often is more than just inconvenience, but even this, we, nowadays, are NOT willing to sacrifice.

Another angle, a loving relationship is a partnership, but NOT a business deal! Family love and marriage for example, are no business deals, but love relationships, but sadly, more than some, have forsaken love commitment for unequal contributions. Such cannot view, “to have given more”, as a sacrifice, embodied in love. When the relationship is founded on, “you must put in so much, and I must put in so much, no one is to be disadvantaged, REGARDLESS”, it is no love relationship or marriage; more like a business deal; such “love” relation will falter!

COnt...

high-expressions said...

COnt. from above

Love costs you something; true love is costly. King David, whom God said, was a man after His own heart, knew what love is. He said (paraphrased), “I will NOT give my God that which costs me nothing.” (2 Sam 24:24) We have no time, to love God, to go to church to worship Him, to stop to love a man in need! But in reality, everyone has the same amount of time, 24 hours, no more and no less! What we are saying is that our time is costly, we could use it for some value, and that value, we are unwilling to part with, as a cost of love; and so, we will NOT give of our time to show love. What we are saying to God is that we are unwilling to sacrifice for Him; and that really translate into we are unwilling to love Him when it costs us.

The world view of love, sadly, is increasing loaded with “what is it in it, for me!” On the contrary, when we hear that phrase, love is out of the window. When love embodies sacrifice, it means love involves giving, more than receiving.

Coming to the issue of daily walk, yes, it is daily, at the least, it is an on-going thing, it is a continual thing; it is a living out. The way I put it, is that we are who we are, when we live out who we are; and that is the expectation of God.

As to the issue of a time daily alone with God, it is a good means to get to know what we are to do as we go along (and that includes our loving), apart from other goodness that can come with it. I guess this is what Ps Prentis was trying to say. Actually, as we go through the day, we are supposed to be attentive to the leading of the Spirit, even when we are working in the office or doing housework at home. But what happens, however, is that we are often allowing ourselves to be caught in the rush of the day, and NOT paying attention to the Spirit of God, and so, one good way to mitigate this, is to set aside time, away from happenings or before happenings, to listen to God, to get what He wants us to do. Quiet time (QT) or no QT, we are still to be mindful that we are to live out who we are, and be attentive to the Holy Spirit, so that we do God’s will, in the affairs of each day. It is NOT taking God for granted when we consult Him before we go about undertaking a task; Nehemiah did exactly that, before he went to speak to the King about going back to Jerusalem to rebuild the city wall, he went before God and talk to God about it (you can glean it from his prayer – Ne 1:5-11).

Have you given serious thought to Matt 7:21, that Jesus said we got to do the will of the Father to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? Are you able to give some “Yes” answers, when asked by the Lord in the time to come, or are you going to say, “No”, to all the “Did you do this will of God, that …..?” Do you even know the logos will of God? Are you attentive enough to His Spirit that you can discern His rhema will for you? Have you thought about the taxonomy of God’s will, such things as the sovereign will, moral will, permissive will and directive will of God? If entering the Kingdom of Heaven necessitates us doing God’s will, we back pay more attention to knowing the will of God. Time alone with God is one of the crucial ways.

Anthony Chia, high.expressions