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2. How to Revive Your Devotional Life

Dee Casper
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Is your devotional life dead? Do you even have time with God anymore? This message gives practical principles and steps one can take to grow their relationship with God through communion with Him in the Word and prayer.

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Dee Casper

Evangelism Director for UnScene Media Group

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Recorded

  • March 18, 2017
    11:00 AM
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God thank You that we can have this last time with you this morning during the church service and I asked that you would be present in a powerful way that you would give us practical information to grow our relationship with you to know how to communion with you. To ensure that we are hearing all the things we need to hear and know in all the things we need to know and above all connecting with who we need to connect. So bless us now I pray and I ask this in Jesus' name amen. So I'd like to look at the life of John the Apostle John first and then we'll kind of have some principles will glean after that but first and foremost even though we're looking at a man who has a lot of good examples in his experience we're not saying that he was perfect right John had faults like you and I have faults in Matthew chapter twenty of them are Chapter ten he sought preferential treatment he in James asked Jesus is it hey whenever you come in the glory of your kingdom we want to sit in your right hand on your left and Jesus response to them is you have no idea what you're asking and. He they really have no idea what they're asking because the glory of Jesus is literally the cross they're asking to be on the cross on the rights and on the cross on the left next to Jesus whenever he is in his glory pouring out his life under the dregs of the people he came to see which is all of us by the way so John saw preferential treatment in Luke Chapter nine Jesus tells the disciples to go and minister in these cities and prepare them. And for his coming and some people like now are not that interested and John has this brilliant idea I know Jesus let's call fire down from heaven and consume these people and Jesus His response is you don't know what spirit you're of and they saw exclusivity in March Chapter nine whenever James and John were doing their thing and in the rest the disciples and John tells Jesus hey these. People were trying to do stuff with us but we said no you can't and Jesus says that they're not against us they're for us or they were seeking exclusivity and lastly he stumbled in Christ have a need Jesus says the all of you will be made to stumble because of me that includes all because all generally means all so even though John got it together we'll see that later there was a moment in John's life where he did indeed stumble and leave Jesus in His greatest time of need what I love about John though is he has this enduring tendency he keeps following Jesus verses found in Matthew Chapter four we're going to have a brief Bible study this morning on the life of John and then we'll go into some basic principles of how to grow or devotional lives but what kind of a use this is a framework of what it can look like for us it's in Matthew Chapter four beginning of verse twenty one if you've got your Bibles with you Matthew chapter four and all begin as I mentioned in verse twenty one. Going on from there he being Jesus saw two other brothers James as on the devotee in John his brother in the boat was their body their father mending their nets he called them that is a verse twenty two and the mediately they left the boat and their father and followed him now if if she were a hobby we would think yeah big deal I mean that's pretty cool they're willing to give up their hobby to go hang out with Jesus but this is actually their profession. This is their a wife style this is their means of providing for themselves and the equivalent is basically for someone to walk to the front door the business that they run drop the key to the door walk away never to return this is a really big deal but there's something about Jesus that so intriguing to John that he is willing to follow wherever he goes happens again to Luke Chapter five it's another telling of this in a little more information and potentially something that happened right after the Matthew account Bellew chapter five. Will begin in verse one. Luke Chapter five beginning in verse one so it was as the multitude pressed about Jesus to hear the Word of God that he stood by the lake of gas or it and saw two boats standing by the lake but the fishermen had gone from them and were washing their nets look five now verse three the need got into one of the boats which was Simons and asked him to put out a little from the land and he sat down and taught the multitude from the boat the sea shore the incline kind of serves as basically the ampitheater and water voices travel very well over water I walk in the mornings I walk by three of in and there is this couple that lives across the lake but I kind of walk on the bridge that kind of splits the lake in half and I can hear when they argue because water carries all the way or you know sound carries all the way across the water boys feel like going over there knocking on the door and say Hey just so you know everyone on that side of the water can hear what your yelling at each other about but they have big scary dogs have never had the courage to do that so in verse four when he had stopped speaking he said to Simon launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch First of all this guy may not know his head from a hole in the ground when it comes to fishing like you're going to tell fishermen how to fish but there's again there's something about Jesus in verse five but Simon answered and said Master we've toiled all night and caught nothing Nevertheless at your word I will let down the net and I did this about Peter because even though when Jesus ask him to do something that makes no since you know he does he does it anyway why because Jesus said it and if Jesus is saying it must be in my best interest C.L.S. give it a go so he does it look what happens verse six and when they had done this they cut a great number of fish and their net was breaking so just imagine that just think in your mind the sounds that are going on in this particular trip people are shouting for joy they're excited they're call the people the other boat to come over the nets themselves are breaking so in verse seven they signaled to their partners in the other boat to come and help them and they came. And filled both the boats so that they began to sink this is kind of like if someone were to do a play slot machines with a kind of pull the thing and they get seven seven seven and then the thing is blows up too many coins are coming out of this thing the little plastic cup they give useful and they're just trying to find things to fill it because it just keeps coming but just like their boats are sinking you all this is amazing to me is a miraculous catch a fish that so bountiful that both boats are beginning to sink and when Simon Peter saw it in verse eight he fell down a Jesus his knees saying Depart from me for I'm a sinful man oh Lord Paul says the Romans too for the goodness of God leads to repentance right when you know that you don't deserve the goodness of God and you come face to face with the supernatural goodness of God The response is generally the same I don't deserve this I just terrified verse nine for he and all who were with him were astonished at the catch of fish which they had taken which must be a big deal because they catch fish all the time so they had never seen this in their life and so also were James and John the sons of Zebedee who were partners with Simon their business partners and Jesus said to Simon Do not be afraid from now on you will catch men so when they had brought their bows to the land what did they do. To the verses we were reading I give you a cliffhanger you want me to feed you myself but I'm asking you to read what does it say. It says they first took all and followed him exactly that's exactly what the verse says they literally leave the fish Now again this is if their profession is fishing and they have filled two boats full of fish to the point that they are sinking fish equals money they have two boats full of cash money and what do they do they leave them by the sea shore and go and follow Jesus that's amazing to me there's something about Jesus that is so enticed into them. They're willing to leave the most profitable business venture they've ever had in their lives the most profitable day of their business they're just walking away. Just leave them and follow Jesus I think that's amazing maybe you don't but I do all right next verse March after five. March after five beginning of verse thirty five. March after five in verse thirty five so Jesus is approached by the ruler of the synagogue gyrus Now what type of relationship did Jesus in the synagogue rulers have at this time are they best days are they bosom buddies do they get along well do they like Jesus Baba says no they can't stand Jesus they're not friends of his but yet gyrus the synagogue ruler has a daughter who is deathly ill and at this stage he's realizing that I've got to do something and he's actually willing to go approach Jesus so he has to sit you just imagine he has to muster the guts to approach Jesus first of all and if Jesus were to treat this man in the way that this man would treat Jesus it's not even worth making that trip. But he's going to give it a shot he's heard that this guy can heal people he musters the guts and when he gets to Jesus he actually finds him first of all and when he gets to Jesus is as my daughter is dying and Jesus literally is willing to go with this man this is a last minute act of desperation and he's willing to go with Jesus is willing to go with him so how do you think gyrus is feeling right now about the potential of his wife his daughter being healed has he feeling. Very good she's going to be well it's going to be OK and as they embark upon the journey to go meet with Jesus to the house to meet his daughter this woman comes out from behind country yanks on his coattails here and she touches the edge of his garment there's an Old Testament passage passage that says that he will come with healing in his wings in the wings were basically the Hymn of the garment and she thought you know if I want to. Touch this guy's garments I could be made well she has internal bleeding for years so in this situation it's she spent all her money on doctors It takes a lot of courage by the way for Luke to mention that in his account because lots of physician kind of makes the profession look bad but she's been all over money on doctors it didn't fix her problem and she touches the hymn of Jesus and immediately the bleeding stops she's healed in a moment and Jesus stops and it's people all around him crowding him all touching him and stuff and he says who touch me and his disciples are thinking who touched you everybody and he has done a no power went out for me who touched me and the woman is terrified she thinks she may be in trouble Jesus is making it clear to this woman that touching some random guy is close is not what heals you it's faith in Jesus that heals you and she goes she leaves in peace and then Jesus says he is continuing to go to Gerry's his house two servants come running from the House they say your daughter is dead. Your daughter is dead why bother the teacher any more. How do you think gyrus is feeling now. Devastated. I mean he mustered the guts he actually found Jesus Jesus was willing to come. And then his daughter is dead. And I love the way that Jesus deals with this situation. Jesus says in verse. Thirty six as soon as soon as Jesus heard the word that was spoken he said to the ruler Do not be afraid only believe. I love the way that Jesus deals with this man he basically tells him don't listen to them I'm coming to your house lead the way. Jesus only brings a few people with him Peter James and John and he raises this girl from the dead y'all. Gyrus is. Daughter is raised from the dead and of the people who get to see this amazing miracle by Jesus John is one of them we're going to see in our time together in this brief part of the study that John is always there when the big awesome stuff happens in the life in the ministry of Jesus continue to Matthew Chapter sixteen I think in part to summarize this one and Matthew Chapter sixteen Jesus tells the disciples at the end of the chapter that some of you here will not taste death until you see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom and a reasonable question can be marshaled from this. Has Jesus come yet. No. Are any of these people still a lie that we're standing in front of Jesus when He said that. No Well that's a problem. But verse chapters of versification came later in the Bible they were written that way so sometimes we assume new chapter new story new contexts but that's not the case here it says now after six days in chapter seventeen of verse one six days after what whenever Jesus says that some of you will not taste death to see the Son I'm a coming in His Kingdom the very next thing that occurs is the man and Transfiguration where Peter James and John are the top of the mountain with Jesus Jesus His body is transformed it's brilliant as the light is closer wider than any longer and longer them and they're speaking with Jesus two people who are those two people. Moses and Elijah. And they're representing two classes of people who will be present the second coming of Jesus of the righteous those who die in a resurrected Moses is resurrected we're told and Chapter one there's only one chapter and verse nine I think yeah I think so and then Moses Elijah never taste death he's translated he's brought to heaven in a fiery chariot they literally see a snapshot in the voice of God is there as well they literally see a snapshot of the second coming of Jesus that's the Mount of Transfiguration But again James John and Peter are there. Something big something amazing happens and John is there going to John Chapter thirteen I will go into there John Chapter thirteen. Beginning in verse twenty three. John Chapter thirteen verse twenty three this is at the Lord's Supper. And another was leaning verse twenty three on Jesus his bosom one of his disciples whom he who Jesus loved who is the disciple who Jesus loved John so just imagine this sounds kind of creepy right because if this dinner table scene is a day like your dinner table scene sitting beside someone and resting your head over and leaning in their bosom is really uncomfortable first of all and it just kind of weird but the tables were set up different in their day the tables were only like twelve inches to eighteen inches in height and they would lay down on the ground and lean on their elbows on the lows and they would eat this way now if you're leaning down like this and someone else is linear down available like this it's much easier to have your head and so most bosom it's far more comfortable and three it's a whole lot less creepy to just say you know this is the context of this particular situation but the point is in this very intimate moment that Jesus has the disciples of washing their feet breaking his body and having them drink of his blood as far as the at the act of what they're doing right. John's there he's right beside Jesus as close as you can get resting his head in the bosom of Jesus continuing on in Matthew Chapter twenty six Jesus when he's in the garden gets him and we're told the desire of ages niggas so many chapters that as soon as Jesus is first foot gets in the garden he collapses to the ground because of the weight of the sin of the world just collapses to the ground the disciples help him up and he collapses again they take him into the garden Jesus has a he has eight people stay at the entrance and he brings three people with of Judas has left at this stage Peter James and John Jesus requests. Something of them and Jesus is the greatest time of need when he needs prayer he thinks if there's anybody I can trust in this time of need it's going to be Peter James and John. That's a lot of trust from Jesus isn't it. He's always providing for their knees but when he has a knees certainly they'll be there for me and we know the story that they end up sleeping when Jesus needs them most but when Jesus had a need of prayer he thought he could rely upon John of all the people John is going to be one of those three is actually going to be there for me in my time of need. Continued John Chapter eighteen there is the story of Peter and John eventually getting their act together and chasing down Jesus at the high priest's house now when he gets to the door this is John Chapter eighteen thirteen to seventeen. There seems to be a previous connection between John and the lady who runs the door that at the house is hurting Rhoda is that what it says in there or that the lady in the book of Acts open the door for Peter I was forgiven. As Next what is her name John eighteen thirteen to seventeen it actually mentions her name I think establishing the fact that he knew who she was. It just as a servant girl I guess I confuse that with the story in The Book of Acts maybe I was wrong that happens sometimes anyway when Jesus see it when Jesus is brought into the High Priest home there seems to be a previous connection between John because John is able to get access to the house when Peter isn't John goes in convinces the servant girl to let them into that to let Peter into the house there's a tradition that says that John was the supplier of the High Priest fish and that this is how he had this connection as he brings a fish to the door he knows the girl and so on but the girl wants the doors open and John is on the inside of the door Peters on the outside of the door the servants in the middle and she asks Peter a question what does she ask him. She says you are not also one of this man's disciples are you now what does this imply about John. That she knew that John was a disciple of Jesus unashamedly it seems and asking this question in front of John and in front of the girl what does Peter say. I don't know I'm right in front of John this happens is why John is able to record this so he is at the high priest house with Peter when Jesus has a great time of need this is a dangerous thing for John he could be killed for doing this he could be crucified too but the man just cannot stop following Jesus he even follows Jesus into enemy territory it continues. John Chapter nineteen which is twenty five to twenty seven. It mentions that at the cross of Jesus were a handful of people one of them is the mother of Jesus and the other another one of them is the disciple whom Jesus loved who again we know as John now this is amazing to me John follows Jesus all the way to the cross he is willing to follow him all the way so he gets to the cross and Jesus has his amazing statement in John Chapter nineteen. And verse twenty five judge. Says another stood by the cross of Jesus his mother his mother sister Mary the wife of Clopas and Mary Magdalen verse twenty six when Jesus therefore saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing by he said to his mother woman behold your son then he said to the disciple behold your mother and from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. In Jesus's greatest moment of agony and having the weight of the sin of the world upon his shoulder and severe physical pain he's thinking of other people. He's thinking of his mother and of all the people that Jesus is willing to entrust with the care of his mother it's John. Something about John's pursuit of Jesus. And John's relationship with Jesus led Jesus to believe that John could be entrusted with such a responsibility it is amazing to me because in this culture family takes care of their own and James and Jude will later be converted Jude writes a book of Jude James wrote the book of James reasonably they will name them after themselves that is who wrote them and James is the head of the church and actually after fifty. They're going to be converted but yet Jesus and trust the care of his mother to John I don't know why but I think it's amazing and it shows a lot about the trust of Jesus continuing the almost all of the life of John and John Chapter twenty beginning in verse one. John Chapter twenty actual having a rebuttal to summarize it will read the next one. When Mary Magdalen has an encounter with Jesus she goes and tells the disciples and the first of the twelve disciples to get to the tomb is who do you guess John now granted he's younger than Peter and probably can run faster but for the point of the study He's the first person at the Tomb of Jesus of the twelve disciples continued John Chapter twenty one John Chapter twenty one. Beginning in verse fifteen. Jesus is walking on the shore here it says so when they had even breakfast John twenty one verse fifteen when they had even breakfast Jesus said to Simon Peter Simon son of Jonah do you love me more than the he said to him Yes Lord you know that I love you he said to him feed my lambs he said Imogen a second time Simon son of Jonah do you love me he said to him Yes Lord you know that I love you he said to him to end my sheep verse seventeen he said in the third time Simon son of Jonah deal love me Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time do you love me and he said to him Lord you know all things you know that I love you Peter who deny Jesus three times is reinstated by Jesus three times original language new was to happen there as will go into that for time see but again going to verse eighteen most assuredly. I say to you when you were younger you girded yourself you dressed yourself and you walked where you wished but when you are old you will stretch out your hands and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish he basically says Do You Love Me Do You Love Me Do you love me and here's what is going to cost you. And it's going to lead to difficulty Peter himself is going to be crucified for his Lord upside down and if you're worthy of being crucified the same way Jesus warns him of this but Peter still has a bit of a problem in a system that will eventually be worked out but look at what happens next. Verse nineteen this he spoke signifying by what death he would glorify God and when he spoke of this he said to him Follow me verse so he concludes it's going to cost you but follow me verse twenty then Peter turning around saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following so as Jesus was walking down the shore with Peter reinstating him behind them someone is following who has nothing to do with this conversation it's none of his bees wax this is not a conversation that Jesus is having with John is a conversation that Jesus is having with Peter but John cannot stop following Jesus he just can't stop of Jesus is here I want to be with him I'm going to follow him wherever he goes and I find it interesting that John is present when Peter denies Jesus and is also present whenever Peter is reinstated. I think is pretty cool but nonetheless that's what happens in John twenty one at the end of the chapter but look what happens at the beginning of the chapter I want to close with this on the life of John the will deal the practical nuts and bolts. John Chapter twenty one verse one after these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples in the sea a tie various And in this way showed himself Simon Peter Thomas called the twin The thing of Cain in Galilee the sons of seventy James and John and two others of his disciples were together Simon Peter said to them I'm going fishing and they said we're going with you also they went out and immediately they car and got into the boat and that night. Cut how many fish. None but when the morning had now come Jesus stood on the shore yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus then Jesus said to them Children Have you any food now if you pride yourselves at being professional fisherman you don't catch any fish and someone remind you that are you feeling at that stage kind of an adequate maybe a little frustrated but he says children have you any food in their responses No And what's about to happen should remind you of Luke Chapter five it should and should reminded them of chapter five and he said to them in verse six cast the net on the right side of the boat and you will find some so they cast and now they were not able to draw it in because of the multitude of fish they could bring the net in though it was breaking in Luke Chapter five here they can't there's so many fish they can't do that verse seven therefore that disciple whom Jesus loves said to Peter it is the Lord and I think this is actually on my slides here. Says it is the Lord and look at have is next in the verse now and Simon Peter saw that it was the Lord is that the text says Peter does not recognize that this is Jesus he is relying upon the testimony of someone else that this is the work of Jesus now when he heard that it was true he put on his outer garment for he had removed it and plunged into the sea I find this interesting because of all the people who spent the most quality time with Jesus James John and Peter had a closer relationship than the rest they knew him better than the rest and yet James and Peter are in this boat a size John and only one of those three actually recognizes that this Miracle that has happened in their life is the handiwork of Jesus and who is that. Is John. Now why I venture to say this because John spent the most quality time with Jesus and so when Jesus was working as life he was able to recognize this. John again is the only one there. Many Christians today are struggling with recognizing or hearing Jesus in their lives I think the reason is that they're not spending quality time with Jesus so how could they how could we possibly recognize the working of Jesus in our life if we aren't communing with him and recognizing how he speaks how he works how he deals with broken people and so on so it makes sense it's a very practical lesson that we can learn from the life of John now two sobering thoughts on this new promise there's good news but this is a very sobering thought for me the diff we don't think it's important for us to seek Jesus face daily in word in the prayer what makes us think that we're going to want to see his face every day for eternity. If we don't desire to commune with God now. What makes us think that they're going to want to commune with God then that makes this just a practical lesson I think we can learn from the example the life of John Charles Spurgeon once said that you cannot have Christ in eternity if you do not have him in time now I've a very simple question if you don't want you to be discouraged here do you think that Jesus is looking for reasons to not allow people into heaven of course not. But a friend of mine puts it this way maybe in the next slide if we here's the second point though if we aren't spending that time seeking him each morning then how on earth can we take him with us and sharing with others. What are we offering them what are we offering our classmates what are we offering our spouses What are you offering our children or our students if we ourselves are seeking to glean from Jesus manna from heaven encourage Mint strength power to overcome sin power to obey you can find all these things in communion with Christ but if we don't seek this what are we giving the people around us when we try to invest in them here's the real issue at hand how we spend our time shows the things that we value the most. If something is important to you you wake up early right when we had those really early plane flights to go on vacation somehow we find ourselves. Getting out of bed early enough to not miss our plane. But communion with God doesn't quite work the same way for us and so for some of us it may just be a situation of mind over matter is right you heard Mind over matter it could just be a situation of mind over matter is that we're just wrestling with getting out of bed in the mornings. Do you think that Jesus wants to commune with you in the morning yes or no. Yes Do you think it's possible for Jesus to give us the ability to actually wake up in the morning if we want to have time with it if we recognize that there is weakness in my flesh and I'm not capable do you think that Christ has strength and power available to give us in those moments to actually be able to wake up that we didn't have before do you think Jesus is capable of doing that yet. If we want it I know that Jesus will provide what's necessary to do it now there is absolutely an enemy of souls who hates your guts by the way and does not want you to commune with Christ because He knows that power is found in communion with Christ so whenever I first started to get serious about reading this prophecy every time I would crack open a book for mill white this severe lethargy came out of nowhere and it was difficult for me to stay awake I've had situations like that and it took just continuing to perseverance asking God for strength and he gave me what I needed to be able to read and now I don't have that problem anymore but I did then I've had moments in even in recent months work where the enemy would just assault me and make it so difficult for me to get out of bed to take the time to pray for the people who are on my list I would pray later in the day it would affect everything else in my schedule this battle's real you're not a loser if you can't get out of bed in the morning but we can actually ask God for the ability to do so that's my point Christ longs to give you that strength but we've got to ask he can't go where he's not invited he can't do something that has information to do. And chapter three that verse it's use way too often and offering appeals we're told and it's true to offering but there's an. We can use than just three as my point. In that particular text God says try me now in this if I want to pour in a blessing upon you that you cannot contain we had this saying in America that time is money and the word is equivalent to the equals sign time equals money. What do you think would happen if God promises support a blessing on us if we give money to him if we give some of our resources if we test him in this do you think the same thing could apply if we are willing to give God time. Do you think that God could pour out a miracle in a blessing from heaven of peace in the midst of hardship of wisdom in the midst of difficulty in knowing what to do of having courage to continue in the battles that we're facing do you think that God could afford you those types of blessings from heaven to I think you would I think God would delight to give you these things so what if we tithe a portion of our day and the same has been two hours and forty minutes a day hey they would be amazing if you could do it but what if you decided to set aside a chunk of time that is just for God that you tell the world you can't have this this belongs to God Do you think he would bless you the same way I think you would I've seen him do it in my experience for the mind put it this way that Jesus is going to take everyone to heaven who wants to be there. No one is being brought kicking and screaming who has no desire if we have no desire for communion with God Now we're not going to want communion with God then we take the same character from here that we bring there and it's the same person and that since obviously we have a glorified body and God has worked through is to make us like him but my point is the desires we have here we're going to have there regarding communion with God it will be the same and God knows it would be hell for someone to spend eternity with God whom they don't want to be with that they don't value appreciated don't want to be with and despite God's best efforts and God's desires. To just give us what we want he loves you so much that he's willing to give you what you. Want instead of what he wants. That's how much God loves you now with I have loved you with an everlasting love their Forth loving kindness I have drawn you to myself God wants you God is loving you in spite of what we do or don't do or want or don't want He's still laboring for us he's still pursuing us we care that last night that has not stopped. But in the end the decisions that matter the most to us are going to be the things that we're left to have and so am I saying I'll have a big big. Well I'll explain in just a moment but the pleasure of eternal life begins now and this is where I've kind of started to learn this there was a time in my Christian experience when I first started that I was actually afraid of Heaven kind of ashamed to admit that in front of you but I was actually afraid of heaven because to me that just seemed like such a long time. And I thought What am I going to do for that long now I didn't think I was going to be some fat naked baby playing a harp on a cloud but I still I was terrified of being bored in heaven that I wasn't going to enjoy it was just going to be too miserably long for me. And then something changed. I came face to face with the undying love of Jesus and I fell head over heels in love with a man named Jesus and everything changed and now when I hear people having discussions in Sabbath school about what the streets are going to look like and what the walls are going to look like and what we're going to eat and what colors will see I don't even care. I literally do not care what heaven looks like there's only one thing that makes me excited about heaven and it's Jesus that's what makes heaven heaven to me I'm sure to be beautiful I'm someone who loves hiking and beautiful sights but if I'm just stuck looking at nice scenery for this whole time and I don't find what my heart is really been looking for all of intially get bored. But what makes heaven heaven to me now is that I can bow down and wrap my arms around the legs of Jesus and I never have to let go. I never have to leave them never again do I have to be separated from the love of my life he's always there I'm never separated that's what makes heaven heaven to me now and you can begin to experience the joys of eternal life now heaven actually begins here it begins in your heart Jesus says that this is eternal life that they may know You the only true God in Jesus Christ whom you have sent we don't have to wait to know God or Jesus until we get to heaven that starts here eternal life actually begins here and that's what gives us the desire to want to commune with God you know stand a difference not saying if you don't open some book and read it that you're never going to go to heaven I'm saying that the desires of our heart are the real issue at hand and that's why we behave the way we do this when we don't desire communion or whatever and you can actually begin to experience the joys of eternal life now. I'm experiencing it's actually possible but I want to give a really big disclaimer because there are people who are well intended but start setting up their children for failure I actually have a friend who it's very difficult for them to be willing of their own desire to just read the Bible because they feel that they're doing it because they have to. And then they feel like well I'm not offering God do service I'm just doing this because I have to and God's not going to be happy if I do that either I guess I just a will do anything because they were raised and told that you better read your Bible you better read your Bible you better read your Bible there's a big difference here a huge difference you are not checking off a box to appease an angry God when you open the Bible the morning you're beginning a dialogue and growing a relationship with a loving God That's the point of devotions. Through Communion through listening through talking through getting to know his character in his heart you can find a love for Jesus awakening in your heart and you begin to desire more and more frequently to spend time with him that's how the process changes. And that's what will carry with us into heaven that same desire to sit in his feet in the community him but I want to. Make a really big disclaimer because people are making miserable Christians in the way that they raise their children this at times I'm serious I've had to counsel people with this it's crippling to them because they know that they should but then they just get those those flashbacks of the way that they were treated as a kid and they just literally opening the Bible is like returning to a wounded place where they've been abused the Bible because of how they were trained God isn't asking for that God asking for time God asking for face time for fellowship for him to tell you how much he loves you wants to invest in you that's what he's looking for in a devotional life and it's logical really as far as why we should have time with God you live on a battlefield there's a real devil there's a real enemy of souls he hates your guts and the way for us to provide protection and wisdom and strength and courage is in that time with God That's where it comes from and if he says Chapter six there's only one off and two listed in the entire armor of God and what is that the sort of the spirit. This is our means of fighting back we don't have to be a doormat for say anymore we don't have to just get assaulted by bad thoughts by discouragement by depression and other things and just take it on the chin because well we probably deserve it because God probably is upset with this you can use the promises of scripture and how God loves you how he sees you want to do in your life as your sword to fight him back to kick those thoughts out of your mind it's a great way to train yourself to fight back communion with Christ and I hope you're paying attention to this if you've missed a whole lot of it and you've just been zoning out or whatever and I'm not saying that they are so teachers don't get freaked out by that I'm just saying in general that communion with Christ is a privilege not penance and not a punishment it's not the way that you appease God with your deeds and it's not a punishment it's a privilege that God of heaven loves you so much that he's willing to come and meet with you in your prayer closet he's willing to come and meet with you when you Neal and pray when you read the Word of God He's actually willing. To make time for you every person in this room he's not too busy for any of you and any time that you commit to him I assure you he will give you two fold guaranteed. And I also guarantee the devil will try to take that from me every step of the way don't assume that all right yeah that makes me excited on is going to be easy to read the Bible for now and there's a real battle but when you pray when you call upon the name of the Lord you can cast out the devil and he will flee from you and you can enjoy that communion with God day after day after day after day it's possible it's our means of protection is our source of joy strength peace guidance and sanity and L. White says know that those who neglect to pray are the enemy and shrouds with darkness those who neglect to pray when we don't put the armor on and we have a bad day we know why it's not the God his anger with this is that we didn't have the armor we needed to protect ourselves from the battles of the enemy so make sense it's our means of protection now how can I strengthen my devotional life how much time do I have or I'll do my best to be prompt in to the point how do we grow our devotional life in be like John and follow Jesus first and foremost your primary objective in your devotional life is to connect with Jesus and not become a scholar. You're not looking to become the most brilliant person on the ins and outs of the Hebrew in the Greek and the nuances of verb tenses your objective in your communion with God first and foremost is to connect with him to connect with Jesus to connect with God the Father to ensure that you have a right standing with him and that you know who he truly is that's the immediate priority and the Bible first I'm not saying that you can't read a devotional book you can't read the devotional life but I am saying don't read those things instead of the Bible. And read the Bible first because only the Word of God can impart life if the Word of God can speak a world into existence of because speak the sun in the stars into existence do you think you can bring life into your spiritual experience of course the Spirit of Prophecy never promises to impart life and your. Perience Philip Yancey never promises to bring life into your experience to speak life into your experience their health they're encouraging and they're meant to point back to Jesus particularly the Spirit of Prophecy but it can't impart life and L. Why would tell you the exact same thing do not read my writings instead of the Bible. Don't read desire of ages instead of the Bible read the Bible and then read desire of ages to get more light about what you read that's fine but do not do those things at the expense of time in the Bible so it makes sense right the sort of the Spirit is not Filippi and it's not C.S. Lewis and it's not a white it's only the Word of God So your main means of fighting back is that and then read those things I read this real prophecy every day and I love it but I read it after I read the Bible you understand the difference. Read out loud No I do not mean hollers the all you are made here in the door but just under your breath enough so that you actually Annunciation words of what ends up happening is a magnetic to raise your hands but ever have it that you sit down to read the Bible in your mind as can stay focused and your reading and you read like three chapters and you have no idea what you read ten minutes later read out loud you're engaging more than one of your sentences in it allows you to retain a remember more than if you just read in your mind that makes sense and again you just Annunciation under your breath you're not yelling out loud you know even fully whispering but you are going through the process of speaking the Word of God to yourself which is powerful and internalizing it in your mind's eye makes sense. Start in the Gospels and observe Jesus and in turn the Father Jesus tells Philip if you've seen me you've seen the Father many of us wrestle with unhealthy pictures of God the Father Jesus we can kind of roll with because we see what he did for us but the father is just a mystery to us he's that big angry guy that looks at me like a disappointed parents he's so disappointed in me and he's just holding his finger of the red button looking for reasons to push it and by looking at Jesus you come to realize that one of the most amazing truth of the Bible is that God is just slow. Jesus. He's just like Jesus he talks to broken people in the same way that Jesus did he's willing to spend time with people that society rejects just like Jesus did and so start in the gospels just stare at Jesus observe in commune and take in Jesus and in doing this it's going to set your compass to true north because one you're going to be able to recognize Jesus in other places in the Bible once you do this for a while wait a minute the solace David is talking about my friend Jesus and Psalm twenty two wait a minute Isaiah is talking about Jesus and Isaiah fifty three when Paul was talking about Jesus and Romans you know stand set your compass a true to true north just start there for a while and stay there for a while and it'll be a very helpful thing for you to reprogram your picture of God the Father to set your compass to true north. Yet we do that John forty nine and then Journal how God speaks to you because it's very difficult for us to remember the goodness of God in our experience because enemy of souls who tries to take those seeds out right whenever Jesus sows the seed by the wayside and in different places in the birds come in try to snatch the seed away write down what God does for you right in the margin of your Bible right in the back of your bible in your flyleaf but start journaling the ways that God speaks to you so that when you go through moments of darkness and you feel that God is nowhere to be found you can go back to that journal realize wait God is faithful when I was really discouraging God spoke to me on January third one thousand whatever that's a long time it will be away two thousand and fourteen God spoke to me I was in my bedroom I was wrestling with discouragement and I'd said the wrong thing and then and then God came and when I read in the Gospel of Jesus Jesus said this and it changed my life journalese response is you don't forget the goodness of God in your life additional options spend some time singing right it makes you marry it makes you happy on the inside Jesus was constantly singing I don't even know this already ages it's amazing that she mentions two things that one that Jesus would be singing as he worked and he would work with. Excellence never cutting corners well he may have cut corners because he was a carpenter but not like that but he way Jesus he was never trying to be lazy always worked with an excellent spirit but then she says there would also be times when ever Jesus would just let out a shout to God and everyone the neighborhood could hear it it's amazing that Jesus would praise God verbal e he would sing to God verbal God isn't Zephaniah that God rejoices over us singing He's a musical being sing to him rejoice with him and worship Him in your in your worship time after scripture feel free to read the spirit of prophecy or the devotional books telling the truth as it is and Jesus not like the new age stuff but yet spend earnest time in prayer what that looks like for you I don't know people in will come ask me So how long do I need to spend with Jesus I can't give you that answer how much time are you willing to give Jesus that's the real question and whatever you give him his word will not return to Him void and the thing is the more that you commune with Jesus the more you want to commune with Jesus in the time gets longer to happen to me I'm a minister of the gospel I have a lot of work that I do so my amount of time is probably going to be more than yours so how much I spend doesn't matter but how much time are you willing to give God first and foremost and the just imagine if you're willing to give God an extra twenty minutes in your morning which is a twenty minutes as a random figure do you think that Jesus is able to give you more restful night sleep with twenty minutes less because you gave that time to him than if you rest of the whole time do you think that's possible within the realm of possibility for Jesus of course try me now in this he says just do what he does journal again write the things that God speaks to you about the things that are on your heart you can do prayer journals it's a great way to remind yourself of how God's working in your life you can memorize scripture to prophecy quotes is another thing you can do in your devotion time like twenty minutes that's a long time like how much do I read there's multiple things you can do in that time right but you're communing with Jesus now to last things that will close finding power and personal prayer first and foremost slow down people. Slow down I remember that I started praying that same person I talked about this morning as praying with the mother of a friend of mine and I just knew that when this woman starts praying she knows that she's coming into the presence of God and she slows down and there's a deepening sincerity in the tone of her voice and you can just hear her give God every ounce of her heart when she prays and it was so humbling for me because I realize wote. Prayer is a lot more serious than I thought it was hearing this person prayer made me realize wait a minute I got a slowdown we used to play this game called steal the bacon when I was in school where you'd be you have kids on two walls and they'd have like a chalkboard or race or in the middle and they would say go and both people would run and whoever grabbed the eraser got back to the other wall they won many of us if we're honest with ourselves treat prayer the same way we run in and say hey Jesus they will be with me but I and we go and we're done. His name is and we we hurry through our prayers we're not even thinking about what we say and was in Jesus' name in. His name is Jesus He's the love of your life and he wants communion with you. Stay there and abide in a rest a while you when you pray you're being brought into the presence of God and of the very presence of Jesus slow down and enjoy the ride for a while. That's my first recommendation of personal prayer and when you pray don't be the Hot Wheels guy from the commercials in the ninety's and burning through the name of Jesus stop and declare the name that is above every name give him some time give him credit Don't be afraid or ashamed or too busy for Jesus walk through him as long as it takes praise him. Says that it's not safe to pray into you praise him enough to trust. We run and start telling God what to do but a lot of times we don't even believe that God will do. For us because we're not reflecting upon the faithfulness of God in our experience in our past but if you start with praise and praise him for the way that God is providing for you you're reminded of the fact that I'm talking to a faithful God who cares about me individually and I know he will hear me this is what awakens the prayer of faith. Pray for your clinching and for your reconciliation with God confess your sins you can be arrayed right in a moment of the power justification if you will give those sins to Jesus and repent and ask him to clinch you with the blood. Be specific in what you're praying about and think about what you're praying for I have literally had moments where I would sit down getting ready to read my Bible and what came out of my Mel's was me praying for Jesus to bless my food now I'm not asking for you to raise your hand if you've done this but I just wasn't thinking it was a muscle memory prayer and it just came out of my mouth do you think Jesus wants just muscle memory statements in that those are going to be meritorious think about what you say say it differently so you're not just you know regurgitating the same stuff all the time and be specific because how are you going to know if God answers your prayer if you say God be with so and so God is omnipresent he's already with them what you want him to do for them so it makes sense given specific prayer requests and then you're going to know whether he has your prayers or not if you ask God to be with them he's already with them I guess the prayer was answered but if you're praying specifically you'll get more specific answers and you know what you're hearing pray out loud in the same way that talked about reading out loud just under your breath but again it keeps your mind from wondering when things I do as I walk and pray you know like an hour in the morning just so I can I can focus better I get fresh air for me to focus on my knees for that long is difficult for me and so what I do is I walk so you can do that whatever you want to claim his promises remind God of the promises that he made to you open your Bible and say God You promised me the Nicea forty thirty one that those who way to the Lord will renew their strength that will mount up with wings as eagles at the run and not be worry that they shall walk and not faint you. Me that you would do that and I'm asking you to keep that promise you can remind him of that. If we are wrestling also for wrestling with feelings of separation from God and darkness ask yourself the earnest question is there something that God has convicted me of that I have not dealt with that I haven't surrendered and if that's the case make it right go to God confess that sin be reconciled to God Paul says a second Caribbeans five be reconciled. Are there says that we've not repented of other things that we place a higher estimation on and importance than on God and communion with Him If there are give them to him. If it's causing you difficulty you realize that you're wrestling with the silence of God or with difficulty give those things to him clear the account and come back to God. Pray scripture back to God I just mention that and take time to listen can you imagine what type of relationship it would be if all that happened was your wife talked to you or you talked to your husband and you never gave them a chance to respond. We're praying to God and asking God to speak to us but we're burning through the Scripture we tell God what to do in the run from his presence before you can even open his mouth to say something in response. Slow down and give got a chance to speak back. And the way that you can know whether it's God speaking or you speaking is by spending time in the word to know is this consistent with the Word of God or is this something else that makes sense this is where having a devotional it helps in knowing to distinguish the voice of God to we're praying to receive Christ in the blessings come with him as this is well he says that God does not mail the blessings to us they come with him you've got financial needs you got emotional needs you got heartbreak ask for Jesus and with Jesus comes comfort comes peace comes wisdom comes the ability to provide for your needs seek him and when you see can you forget about your other needs it's amazing when you can have that level communion with God we still have real needs we still have real situations. But God is able to provide and long to ask for him he is the source of the provision for all the needs that you have that's the safest thing to be praying you pray for the stuff too don't get me wrong there's an example of this in Psalm seventy three really briefly in that I need to close out here with. Another form of prayer Psalm seventy three twenty five twenty eight. Whom have I in heaven but you and there is none upon the earth that I desire Besides you my flesh and my heart fail but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever for Indeed those who are far from you shall perish you've destroyed all those who desert you for harlotry but it is good for me to draw near to God I have put my trust in the Lord God that I may declare all your works try walking in as another option you have and foster a mindset of continual prayer throughout the day remind yourself that God exists and that you can talk to him throughout the course of the day. Finding power in intercessory prayer same thing slow down. Be specific again about what you're praying for because again if you're praying for so and so I know you're saying is be was so and so you never know whether those prayers are being answered is hard to strengthen your faith and it's like praying with buckshot give God specific instructions on what you're asking of him and for them and you'll probably see a lot more answers is probably better for him to again pray out loud pray the blood of Jesus over them and ask for the forgiveness of their sins Roger morrow talks about that in his book Give God permission to do His will in their lives they may not be asking for this for themselves but you can ask it on their behalf and you can see God do stuff that you couldn't do otherwise pray that God would have the throne of their hearts. Claim scripture promises over their situation was a parent you're dealing with a lost child Jeremiah chapter thirty one verses sixteen and seventeen is a good example of this are lost family member Jeremiah chapter thirty one verses sixteen and seventeen read this real quick and search mind the text. Scripture for promises for the people you love about and remind that you love and remind God of those promises so it says refrain This is verse sixteen seventeen and Jeremiah thirty one this is the Lord refrain your voice from weeping and your eyes from tears for your work she'll be rewarded says the Lord and they shall come back from the land of the enemy there is hope in your future says the Lord that your children shall come back to their own borders you can claim the promises of God for lost souls and remind him that he promised that don't be afraid to pray bigger things for people we talked about that this morning their salvation is always the will of God and make that a priority over anything else you are wondering what's the will of God What should I be praying for you can always pray for their salvation you never have to worry about that that's always safe it's always the will of God and it's always tempting to give God more permission to work than he did if you didn't pray and be willing to yield to God's will I just lost as I mentioned this morning during prayer time I lost Jim Morris I love Jim Morris with all of my heart he was a phenomenal man he loved Jesus and became a man of the book and would not believe anything of the Bible did not teach it and I valued him he made me a better minister of the Gospel and giving him bible studies. But Jim has had perpetual health issues and just recently his body was ravaged by cancer. I would love to see Jim I would love to have more time with him but I don't know what is in Jeff's Jim's best interest I really don't and so I had to choose to yield to God to yield to God's will and to give got permission to do whatever it took to ensure that Jim was his and that is suffering was as minimal as possible but I don't know what God wants for Jim that makes sense so we have to yield to God's will regardless knowing because God will give them what they need God will give them what they most need ask God what He wants you to pray for these people just imagine. God has been longing for this all along see God what do you want me to pray for so and so I that happen right behind when these places walk on the back road of the girls' dorm and I ask. God specifically what do you want me to pray for so and so and he gave me an immediate answer and I've been praying for that for them ever since you can actually ask God that stuff if you don't know what to pray about ask him Paul says we don't know how to pray as we are in Romans eight but the Holy Spirit will utter groans intense groans on our behalf you can actually asked the god to tell you what to pray for and again take time to listen whenever you pray that so helpful resources incredible answers to prayer by Roger Moore No you can get at the A.B.C. great book and I think he has a couple videos too but the phenomena resource on so indebted to rich seven for sharing that with me daring to ask for more of my ability Mason super good book dealing with the practical nuts and bolts of prayer and heart issues stuff not just say these words in this order he she's getting to the real heart of the matter are you believing lies about who God is what strongholds exist in your experience powerful stuff a good friend of mine daring to ask for more by Melody Mason has a book called One miracle after another oh dear that being obdurate I almost died All right the next link down in a D Ministries dot org If you go there if you actually views type. A and type of vital prayers there's a series of messages he did his church in Lexington Kentucky that are powerful doing some great great principles of prayer and a lot of testimonies too and. T.V. hates me Paul will go ahead and as I similar He didn't two thousand and sixteen you can find him on audio verse if you type in audio verse he's actually the first person listed or those are the most recent sermons listed there were two of them awesome stuff really really good stuff. Mark Finley has a similar on audio verse called business. Spirituality and vision look at my computer screen I will make it more common Sorry guys it's called an audio verse business spirituality and vision there are some great Bible study principles he talks about the sin of busy. It's in most of our lives really really good stuff and how to engage your devotional life and stuff and anyway those are some basic principles those close with that but it's been helpful this morning want to know that God desires to commune with you but two basic ways to do so is just been helpful to some practical steps you can bring into your devotional life to revive it to awaken it so I'm going to do is closer the word of prayer and again tonight we're going to deal with how can I be ready to stand at the end of time like how do I get myself ready get ready get ready get ready How do I do that how was God going to prepare me so was closer the word of prayer. God I think you that you desire to have time with me that you actually desire to have time with everyone in this room and whoever is watching or listening you love us. To commune with us and you wish that we would delight to commune with you I pray that we would come to value the fact that eternal life is available to us today and we had to wait until later we can commune with you now we can have an experience with you Nell and I just pray that with your love we would desire that on an even greater level that you would revive us and that you would use us to be a blessing to others that we could share the blessings you give us in our communion with you in the mornings with our family with our friends with the people you put in our path and in our sphere of influence revive us oh God I pray give us a desire for communion with you and to do the things that are for the. Media was brought to you by. A website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon and much more if you would like to know more about.

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