We continue with Part II from the booklet Spending Time With God, written by Pastor Danny Hodges of Calvary Chapel St. Petersburg in Florida.
Fellowship with God is a tremendous privilege. It's also meant to be an amazing adventure every believer can experience. With inspiration and personal insight, Pastor Danny presents practical steps for developing a vibrant daily devotional life. Discover the privilege and the adventure as you learn the keys to spending time with God.
Continuing With the Requirements for Spending Time With GodWhat is needed for successful times with God?
A Circumcised HeartA pure heart is a single-minded heart. It's your number one aim in life—to know God. So what is a circumcised heart? Circumcision means "a cutting away." A circumcised heart is a heart that is willing to cut away even the good but unnecessary things that crowd out God.
Ivory Soap has no additives, but soaps like Irish Spring do. Now, as I've mentioned, there's nothing wrong with the added ingredients in Irish Spring. But if you're looking for pure soap, Irish Spring won't satisfy. The point is some things that are not evil in and of themselves may have an evil influence if they crowd God out of our lives. Scuba diving is not evil. If it is, I'm in real trouble, because I love to dive. Playing basketball is not evil. Enjoying sports in general isn't morally wrong. Going to amusement parks is not necessarily evil, and having fun won't damage us spiritually. But these "good" things (and other normal activities in life) will crowd God out of our lives if we let them.
We must make time with the Lord our number one priority. There are lots of choices in life, and those choices will determine the priorities in our lives. So, we must be careful or the "busyness" and simple pleasures of life may crowd out our time with the Lord. Here are two examples of this potential dilemma:
- The Demands of Ministry:
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. Simon, and his companions went to look for him, and when they found him, they exclaimed: "Everyone is looking for you!"
(Mark 1:35-37, NIV)
People were always looking for Jesus. Many times He would take His disciples and try to get away to a lonely place; yet, the people would find Him, and they would crowd Him. Why? Because He ministered to them. He met their needs. He helped them. As a result, everyone wanted His time. But in spite of the demands on His time, Jesus made it a priority to get away and spend time with the Father.
It is my conviction and my experience that the most important meeting of the church is not on Sunday morning. The Sunday church service is a vital gathering, but I don't believe it's the most important encounter we can have as Christians. The most essential meeting is our own personal time with the Lord.
In Luke chapter five, Jesus healed a man of leprosy and then instructed him not to tell anyone. And of course, like so many others Jesus touched, he went out and started telling people. It says in verse 15, "Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses." (NIV) It became even more difficult for Jesus to find a lonely, solitary place. The very next verse says, "But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed."
(Luke 5:16, NIV)
In his book, Victorious Christian Living, Pastor Alan Redpath stresses the necessity of being alone with God:
If a man would walk with God, if a man would live a holy life, if a man would assume authority and hold it down, because God holds him down, he has to know what it is to pay the price of a closed door - sometimes even his family are on the other side-for no Christian leader is more effective in his leadership than when he is alone with God, on his knees... For the greatest transactions of a man's experience are made, not in a church, but behind closed doors.
The late Dr. Andrew A. Bonar, noted Scottish author, reiterates this truth:
In order to grow in grace we must be much alone. It is not in society that the soul grows most vigorously. In one single, quiet hour of prayer it will often make more progress than in days of company with others. It is in the desert that the dew falls freshest and the air is purest.
How true that is. We must make time for God. Ministry is a good thing. Each of us ought to be involved in serving the Lord. We're all called to be His ministers. But sometimes even ministry can get in the way of the most important thing—God Himself.