Thursday, June 26, 2014

Devotions - Growing From Five Minutes to Two Hours - One Step at a Time - Part 1 ~ by A Sister in Christ

     When I first began having regular devotions-quiet times, I would watch the clock and five minutes seemed like a long time.  At other times it just seemed, well, dry.

     In reading biographies of men and women who meet with the Lord for two hours, commenting that, the busier their day was the more important it was to “abide” with Him in the morning, seemed wonderful, but impossible to me.  So in my heart I asked, as it is written in Matthew 7: 7-8 ~
“Keep on asking and it will be given you; 
                keep on seeking and you will find;
                                keep on knocking [reverently] and [the door] will be opened to you.  
For everyone who keeps on asking receives; and
                he who keeps on seeking finds; and
                                to him who keeps on knocking, [the door] will be opened.”
(KJ Amplified)

     Now that unfathomable distance between five minutes and two hours some thirty years later is becoming a reality.  I am not at the place where I abide every day for two hours, but it is wonderful when I can.  The time is rich, sweet, and goes by so fast.

     During my quiet time these are the aspects that make my time with the Lord full and fulfilling.

1. Blessing

     Our time together begins with asking my Father for His blessing and His wisdom.

     Someone once shared a helpful part of her devotion time that has been very beneficial.  She matter of factly stated, that she holds out her hands, and asked God to bless her.  Just at Jesus, asked His FATHER to bless the five loaves, and two fishes. 

     At times, I will place my hands on my head and ask Father to bless my thoughts,
                help me to take every thought captive,
                                to discern the flaming darts,
                                                lies of the enemy, Satan. 
                                Bless my eyes that I will see and perceive things from HIS perspective.
                                    Bless my ears that I will ear and understand. 
                                                Bless my mouth that I would be careful of what I say,
                                                                that God would be in control of my tongue,
                                                                                that it would be used for blessing,
                                                                                                that it would speak words of life. 
                                Then placing my hands over my heart,
                                                asking God to bless the meditation of my heart,
                                                                for out of it comes the issues of life, and
                                                                                out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.
                                 Bless my hands…. bless my feet… . 

     I remember one day being very sick for months, and confined to bed.  I held out my hands and stated, “Father God I have not even five loaves, and two fishes, figuratively speaking, but I ask you to bless my day….”  He has taught me that I can come with nothing, for HE is able to bless, and multiply, just ask.

     I love these words by Martin Luther: 
“God creates out of nothing.
Therefore until a man is nothing,
God can make nothing out of him.”

     Recently an older Christian leader spoke of his grandfather.  Stating that he was a simple man with little education, yet at the end of his life, was extremely successful; he attributed this to his humility.  When his grandfather prayed, he always said, “Lord its Earl, and I lack.” 

     It is written in James 1:5 “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.” (KJV)

     James 1:5 “And if, in the process, any of you does not know how to meet any particular problem he has only to ask God—who gives generously to all men without making them feel foolish or guilty—and he may be quite sure that the necessary wisdom will be given him.” (JB Phillips)

     When I come to spend time with my Father, my Lord, I begin by holding out my hands, asking for HIS blessing, acknowledging my need, my lack, my complete dependence on HIM.

     It is such a simple beginning, but the rewards are just like the multiplying of the loaves and fishes.

2.  Thanksgiving and Praise

     Another key aspect of my time with Father is written in Psalm 100:4“Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.”  (KJV)

” Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and a thank offering and into His courts with praise! Be thankful and say so to Him, bless and affectionately praise His name!”  (KJAmp)

     This portion of expressing thanksgiving for His many benefits, helps turn my heart toward JEHOVAH, the great I AM.
the smell of fresh baked bread…
                a good night sleep….(pillow, bed, blankets…)
                                eyes to see…
                                         the gift of a letter in the mailbox…
                                                perfectly designed air to breath …
                                                                the sound of many waters…
                                                                                HIS forgiveness …  HIS Word ….  HIS love….

     On mornings where I have extra time, I will add a time of singing.  It started with different hymn books and sheets of paper, close to my place where I meet with the Lord.  Over the years I have collected favorite hymns, psalms, and spiritual songs that encourage my heart.  Now, they are all arranged in one three ring binder, in top loading sheet protectors, alphabetically.  This has been helpful to have all my favorites in one place.

     I find this time helps me to enter into HIS presence, and leave the world behind.

3. Who God is and Who we are in Christ

     The next facet has had amazing benefits.

     A person I greatly admire said that praying the names of God was life changing in their spiritual life, and especially their prayer life.  It was a simple beginning.  From a two by three inch card with names of God, I began reminding myself of who my amazing heavenly Father, His Son, and the Holy Spirit are.   As I read HIS Word, I saw many wonderful attributes, and beautiful descriptions of God (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) in HIS numerous names.  To make it easier to meditate on HIS names I started a word document.  During my devotion time I would jot down a new name and the Scripture on a note pad.  Each year it grew, and after three years, I now have a list of 178 names with Scriptures.
     Each day I will read, at least one of the name of God.  Many different things can take place during this time; meditation,
                memorization of a verse,
     This aspect will follow me throughout the day.  Just the past weekend I read El Olam.  One of the Scriptures listed was Isaiah 26:4. 
First, I meditated on the beautiful Words,
                then memorized the rich passage,
                                from that came a heart of prayer. 
     Later that afternoon, as I was praying for someone, I prayed Isaiah 26:4. 

          At a Becoming Beautiful to God Seminar, a beautiful testimony was given on how, reading the Scriptures that remind us of who we are in Christ was life changing.  After receiving the helps from the young lady who gave the testimony arrived, my intentions were good, but to be honest I hadn’t been consistent.  After studying God’s names, my spirit is so encouraged I would skip over it.
So God allowed me to hear the truth again; to hear how important this is to life as a believer.  He stated,
“Behavior will never give you your identity.” 
                We can’t go by our feelings;
                                we need to live by faith, who God says we are. 
                                                “We don’t always look like who we are. 
                                                                You spend your life becoming who you are. . . . 
                                                                                Knowing who you are will change who you are.” 
     It important to know who God is, but our Father also wants us to know who we really are.

     After spending three years of studying the names of God, I went through an extremely difficult time.  It was the three years spent knowing God that increased my trust and hope in HIM.

4. Memorization and Meditation (M&M’s)

     Memorization is putting the Word in my mind and meditation is getting the Word into my heart, by keeping it before my eyes, 
                pondering on it,
                                mulling it over,
                                                chewing on it more than once,
     I remember memorizing and meditating on Exodus 20:3.  The first part of the verse was the part I just kept chewing on, it tasted so good; “Thou shalt have, Thou shalt have, Thou shalt have…my, that tastes good … (It also takes a lot of repetition for me to get it) Thou shalt have, Thou shalt have, Thou shalt have  Father God why does that taste so good?” 
                “If you have me, do you need anything else?” was HIS reply. 
     Then my meditation lead to all that HE is,
                why would I need any other god,
                                 if I have the Creator,
                                                my Help, my Shepherd, my El Shaddai, … . 
                                                                God if I have YOU I don’t want any other gods before me. 
                                                                                Nothing can compare to YOU. 
                                                                                                YOU over shadow any other competing 


     To help with M&M’s, I have started printing out Scriptures that have been memorized on pretty paper, which are placed in a top loading sheet protectors, then put in my three ring prayer note book.  This makes it easy to review. 

     For Scriptures being worked on, I just started something new.  It is more of a work sheet with the Scripture. 
 I will underline words that are difficult for me. 
                Highlight words that satisfy my heart. 
                                Journal what God shows/reveals to me. 
                                                Copy the verse in more than one version.
                                                                Make note of cross references. 
                                                                                Write down key words in the Strong’s. 
                                                                                                Jot down insights given by the Holy Spirit. 
     Then as the Scripture is memorized, my goal is to know the root word, other dimensions of a key word, to know the verse intimately.

     When the portion of Scripture is memorized and meditated on, these notes will go behind the Scripture on pretty paper for easy review, and referencing.

     M&M’s can be a part of my quiet time, but it is something that is with me through the day.  “O how I love thy law! it is my meditation all the day.” Psalms 119:97     

     A beginning on Psalm 119:97 might look like this.
O how I (intensely) love thy law (that directs, guides, teaches, makes straight, points me forward; because it guides, instructs me in the way of righteousness, points me onward to peace, truth, and happiness, it is my school master to bring me to Christ)!, it is my meditation (reflection, my devotion, my prayer) all the day.                                                                                       

Also find Scripture you can sing, it uses both sides of the brain and makes it easier to remember and meditate on.

Next to reading God’s Word, memorization and meditation are the second essential. 
Part 2 coming soon!

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