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How to Strengthen Your Devotional Life During this COVID-19 Crisis

David Shin
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David Shin

Pastor, Hillside O'Malley Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Anchorage, AK

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  • March 21, 2020
    1:45 PM
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They're happy sappiness this is one of the most unusual. 7 morning sermons I have ever given in my life I'm talking to a camera and I trust that there's people on the other side but this is a different reality who would have thought that 2 weeks ago which seems like an eternity when I gave my last sermon that we would be here. Isolated all of us in our own homes not able to go out and be with groups of people for fear of spreading or infect being infected with the this mysterious Covidien 1000 virus and and here we are I mean this is this Is unreal and I wanted to reach out to you in this way on Sabbath morning now we had a discussion with my. With our church a v. streaming specialist and. About the best venue and the best way of doing this and we came to the conclusion that this venue would be the most intimate and personal perhaps welcome to any feedback. I could go to the church and preach to an empty room and you don't know that I'm preaching to an empty room and we can def do that and so we're just kind of figuring things as we go along but we thought we'd try this since you're all that home I thought I could be here in this setting and talking to the camera and it would be a little bit more personal. Of a delivery here of today's message today study I should say well how are you all doing I I pray for you I'm thinking about you the events of the last few days the last couple weeks have dramatically impacted our society in so many ways and people are hurting in our world. Many of you are hurting. Many of you have been deeply affected some of you more than others by this mysterious covert 19 virus. And I want to encourage you I want to let you know that I'm praying for you your church family is here for you we will get through this. This is not Revelation Chapter 13 and the mark of the beast and those types of events that we've described but I believe that this is a dress rehearsal for the end time events and this is an opportunity this is a wake up call for us to really realize how. Much Should I say how fragile our human securities really are over night we can lose everything and then where is our anchor and so this is a reminder to all of us an opportunity for us to assess our own hearts and our own relationships with God and to look heavenward and to spend more time in prayer and in Bible study and so I praise God for technology and the opportunity that we have to connect with each other through these means and praise God for the Internet that it can be used for God's glory in this way so that we can still be connected even though we are physically apart during the upcoming days and weeks our topic of study today is how to strengthen our devotional life through this pandemic crisis and we are in a unique situation unprecedented where a lot of people on planet Earth are sequestered and isolated in the 4 walls of our own home and it presents unique opportunities and unique challenges as well there's going to be a lot of people on Netflix a lot of. People playing video games a lot of people spending their time on Facebook and Instagram and getting caught up in the the frenzy and the craze of the 247 news media but we want to come out on the other side of this spiritually stronger than the way we went in before and this is a huge need for Tootie for us this God's people to cone in on our devotional life and to spend more time in prayer and Bible study and so I want to share in the practical study today about our devotional life and spending our time with Jesus because a lot of people are like hey I want to have stronger devotions I want to spend more time with Jesus but how how do I do this and where do I even start and so I wanted a practical study that we could apply here at the beginning of this crisis so that when we come out on the other side wouldn't it be so beautiful if all of us as a community of faith could come out on the other side of this crisis with a stronger devotional life and a stronger commitment and desire to spend time with Jesus than we did before I want to turn our attention to the Book of Daniel which will be the focus of our study this morning now you may be wondering Pastor David like why Daniel we're in the midst of a crisis right now people are scared people are in a frenzy there's a lot of uncertainty for the future and you want to study the Book of Daniel and freak people out even more a this is this is this is very unusual but I want to turn our attention to Jesus's own words in Matthew chapter 24 and verse 15 Let me read it to you. Therefore when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by Daniel the prophet standing in the holy place whoever reads let him understand so here's Jesus in that great end time chapter in Matthew chapter 24 and he says when he talks about pestilences and earthquakes that all these things that are signs of the near miss of the 2nd coming of Jesus and this worldwide pestilence this worldwide pandemic is another sign that the coming of Jesus is near even at the door and in the midst of all these symptoms or I should say signs of Jesus coming soon he tells us to turn our attention to a particular book of the Bible and he gives us a book indorsement now in Jesus tells us if we're going to be living in then of time and you need to read this resource and this book we as God's people better perk up and pay attention because this book The Book of Daniel is the one book that she's a single to out and said look you better read this book you better understand this book and with that justification I believe that while we are living through one of the signs of the end that we need to turn our attention to the Book of Daniel not to scare us but to inspire us I want to share 5 ideas that are embedded within Jesus's indorsement of the Book of Daniel number one. Daniel is an inspired prophet and by implication the Book of Daniel is trustworthy. When Jesus said Daniel the Prophet Jesus a stablish is the ferocity of the prophetic gift in Daniel the authenticity of Daniel there's some people out there they're like oh how can we trust that the Book of Daniel is really inspired Well if you trust the words of Jesus you can know that we can trust Daniel he's authoritative he's trustworthy. So we come to number 2 the Book of Daniel should be read and study Jesus who is so ever read the Book of Daniel let him understand so the Book of Daniel is not there just to be an s. Doric a book it's to be a relevant book for God's people living in the end of time and Jesus said Point number 3 the Book of Daniel would be understood in other words this is not a book that's to be lost in ups curity that we can never understand Jesus said The Book of Daniel should be read and it would be understood number 4 the prophecies within the Book of Daniel would be fulfilled when Jesus said When you see the abomination of desolation standing in the Holy Place whosoever reads let him understand in other words the prophecies of Daniel will be fulfilled just like the one that was fulfilled Matthew chapter 24 verses 15 and come to number 5 very quickly the book of Daniel's message is relevant and practical for an time living in other words this is not just conceptual this is not just an idea this is not just theory but the Book of Daniel has prophetic practical implications for our day to day lives and so there you have it from Jesus Christ Himself indicating that the Book of Daniel especially as we are experiencing the signs of the end should be a book that we turn to not turn away from but turn to for insight for inspiration and for strength during the last days some background on the Book of Daniel the Book of Daniel is in a Kayasth stick structure and as you can see on this diagram is a form of Hebrew parallelism chapter one stands kind of by itself because it is a chapter that summarizes the entire book chapter 2 is a parallel of chap. After 7 Chapter 3 is a parallel of Chapter 6 Chapter 4 is a chair parallel chapter 5 now the focus of our study today is Daniel Chapter 6 and you can see from this diagram that Daniel Chapter 6 parallels Daniel Chapter 3 now Daniel Chapter 6 is Daniel and the lion's den Daniel chapter Sri is Daniel story friends shall direct me Shekhina Bendigo on the plain of Dura and assist Henri of the fiery furnace now in both of these stories worship is a central issue and there is a death decree for those who do not comply with this false worship this theme of false worship and death decree reoccurs in Revelation Chapter 13 and there is an image set up image of the beast and those that do not worship the image of the beast are to be killed so these are parallel chapters of Daniel Chapter 3 Dana chapter 6 and Revelation Chapter 13 all have parallel applications now the Book of Daniel is comprised of 2 main types of John Ross one are the prophecies like Daniel Chapter 2 and the image or Daniel Chapter 7 The Lion and the Beast and or Daniel Chapter 8 The ram in the he go to. And of those are prophecies you also have time prophecies like the 126-212-9133 extension 5 or 2300 days but in addition to that you have another John of stories or narratives there are 8 stories that are interim woven throughout the book of Daniel and 6 of the stories are characteristics that we are to have as the prophecies are being fulfilled while 2 of the stories are characteristics that we are. To avoid while the prophecies are being fulfilled Incidentally the name Daniel means God is my judge Laodicea means a people judged they had to see is the last church representing us living right before the end of time in the close of probation and Laodicea means a people judge there's all types of illusions pointing out that Daniel is a type of God's people living in the end of time and the characteristics that Daniel and his 3 friends had are characteristics that we are to have as well so we turn our attention to Daniel Chapter 6 It's a familiar story Daniel in the Lion's Den The king is tricked into signing a decree that for 30 days no one should worship any god or man except the king and Daniel knows that this decree is signed and he also knows that there is a death penalty for noncompliance if you don't comply you are thrown into the den of lions now are a key text is Daniel Chapter 6 verse 10 Let me read it now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed he went home and in his upper room with his windows open toward Jerusalem he knelt down on his knees 3 times that day and prayed and gave thinks before his God as his custom was since his early days Daniel had a custom habit we might say. That every day morning noon and evening 3 times a day he would open his windows toward Jerusalem now why would he do that now when you look in Chronicles when Solomon is doing the dedicate Torrie prayer for true Islam he prays this prayer and says if your people are ever taken off into captivity let them pray toward this place Drucilla the temple and you will hear from heaven. Daniel since his early days I believe ever since he was a teenage captive in Babylon had this habit of praying toward Jerusalem 3 times a day following the instruction of Solomon that God's people would be delivered and taken out of captivity and so this was an integrated and have it within Daniel now in our story in Daniel Chapter 6 Daniel is a senior citizen. He's well into his eighty's at this point he's a senior statesman in Babylon in a new regime the Middle Persian empire and there he is that morning he got up like any other morning he knew that this prayer would likely be his death you can imagine the potential temptations that would creep into the mind of Daniel to compromise on that day he could have just said look on not going to open my windows today I'm going to pray in my home he could have rationalized and thought to himself I do a lot better work for the Lord alive than dead The Lord understands but in this case to rationalize and to compromise would have been sin because it would have communicated to all those people that Daniel's windows are not open like his has been every day before he is compromising he's not upholding his faith he's obeying the king man's Kings mandate and he's in there worshipping the king so he opened his windows toward Drusilla on that day and it was essentially signing his death sentence and commissioning him to a night with the Lions now here poses a question for us how do we know when to obey the laws of the land. And when to conscientiously does obey the laws of the land just like Daniel did in the situation now in Daniel Chapter 6 there is a commandment of God namely the 1st commandment thou shall not have any other gods before me that would have been broken if Daniel would have worshiped the Kings So this was one of the 10 Commandments that was as stake here it was breaking one of the laws of God that was etched in stone at Mount Sinai this is where we need to take a stand and if man's law cause us to break God's law namely his 10 commandments we need to make a stand even if it means our desk now in this cove it 1000 prices there has been a dilemma in many minds because states and cities across the world in the United States of America have. But have put into effect bans of people meeting for church or other large gatherings and so forth and and there have been these questions you know should I obey the laws of man in this case and I would say yes we need to obey the laws of man because quarantine is not breaking one of God's commandments this is not for religiously reasons that the government are telling people not to congregate this is because of quarantine and Quarantine is a biblical principle it is it is a part of the Bible read the book of Leviticus read Leviticus Chapter 13 this is a concept that is in the Bible and so we need to do our part as a community of faith another idea to reflect on is that the New Testament church the church in the book of Acts they didn't have a building or you say all didn't they go to the synagogues but when you read Paul and the other possums going to the synagogue they went there to persuade Greeks and Jews it was for the purpose of evangelism Well I believe that they went there and prayed to but you can see that after 3000 people were baptized on the day of Pentecost the Bible says that they were breaking bread house to house in other words the church went into people's homes so Church is is more than a building I should say church is not a building and because we can gather at church does not mean that we are being unfaithful to God So I want to be very clear on that that the mandates coming down from the state right now are not calling us causing us to break one of God's 10 Commandments some people may sincerely ask what about Paul's admonition to not forsake the assembling of yourselves now that is a legitimate question now. When Paul wrote that to the early church he was writing I believe to the human tendency to sometimes think you know what I don't need to go to church I'm just going to be by myself to the individual ism of not meeting church community and saying look I'm just going to be a monk by myself I'm going to be spiritual by myself in this case that is not the issue we have a situation where God's people want to get together we create heat for getting together but because of quarantine because of a deadly virus to a certain percentage of our population and the impact that will have on our medical institutions in the ability to treat these individuals it is the most loving thing to do to sacrifice and to stay at home it is a sacrifice to be isolated because we need community we need to come together and so those are some reflections in that regard but in Daniel Chapter 6 here is a clear contradiction between God's law and man's law the state says you need to worship the king God's law says you can only worship God and in that cases or in these cases we need to obey God rather than Man this is a quote from Dr Nick Miller professor of church history of Ender's Theological Seminary. Closing churches to stop coronavirus isn't yet Revelation 13 it's Leviticus 13 so act like 1st Corinthians 13 till Romans 13 runs its course very well said by Dr Nick Miller So you know the story Daniel makes that stand and the Lord Jesus delivers him from the line stand we need to do right because it is right and leave the consequences with God. Now the point I want to hone in on as we're talking about a devotional life is Daniel would rather die than miss his devotions Daniel's devotional life was the most important time of his day it was worth dying for and we have this example this characteristic of an individual that is to be reproduced in our own lives this this devotion to devotions if I may say so and it was at a set time a set place the most important moment of his day so here are some practical pointers for our devotional life number one asked the Lord to create in you a deeper desire for him. You can pray to God and say Lord I don't want to have to vote sions matter of fact I'd rather watch television than spend time reading the Bible but I want to change that so create in me a deeper desire for you help me to hunger for your word like I hunger for food help me to thirst for your word like I thirst for food and and God will do that the same God that created the earth from nothing and spoke it into existence can create in us a deeper desire for him this is this is where it starts it's not as though we have to conjure up our our desire for devotions and just pull our selfs up by our own bootstraps we can pray to God and say Lord help me to want to have to vote sions help me to have a deeper desire for devotions a stronger desire for devotions and you can pray to gun say Lord wake me up in the morning have your angel come to my side and wake me up to spend time with God so that this can be the anchor of my day the anchor of this time that we are practicing social distancing the anchor of this time when were isolated from each other we can ask God to create in us a deeper desire for him number to set a regular time and place to have devotions. Daniel had a regular time and he had a regular place designate a corner of your home Designate a place in your home a room in your home for devotions and have a specific time for your devotions as well you can set your alarm clock you can set your timer and prefer plea in the morning before the cares of this life and other priorities start to crowd things away there was a reason why the man a fellow in the morning and by day time it had melted We want to make sure that we get our morning manna number 3. Pray before you begin and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. The Bible says that the Holy Spirit is the Great Teacher We need help the Bible is a spiritual book and we need spiritual assistance we need the Holy Spirit to guide our thoughts and to take us to those places and to give us insight so we want to pray not only for a deeper desire for God's word but also for the divine instructor the Holy Spirit to guide us through the Word of God Number 4 choose a passage of scripture you can start off with practical books like 1st the Sloan Ians or James Now I recommend that your devotional time be spent reading those passage just south of Scripture that really feeds your soul I would not recommend it be a time of scholar the exit Jesus and study that's good but not in your devotional time that's my personal advice for you and in other words it's not a time to be studying the king of the north in Daniel 11 or what is that daily this is a time to feed your own soul like what are you going through what are you struggling with and this is a time when we are struggling with anxiety with fear with worry for the future so I would recommend going to the promises of God and having these promises to minister to us and to feed our souls and so here's a promise of reflection in our devotional time that I would recommend for myself and perhaps this would be applicable to you Isaiah Chapter 41 verse 10 fear not for I am with you be not dismayed for I am your God I will strengthen you yes I will help you I will polled you with my righteous right hand 2nd Timothy one verse 7 So another good promise forgot. God has not given us the spirit of fear but of power and of love and of sound mind John 14 verse 27 Peace I leave with you My peace I give to you not as the world gives Do I give to you let not your heart be troubled neither let it be afraid Here's some other references that you can meditate on in your devotional life there is 33 verses on the screen about fear and anxiety which is quoted in 41 verse 10 and there are some others that you can look up and and journal in your in your devotions So we come to number 5 paraphrase the passage in your own words in your journal or your sheet of paper this is very important I recommend getting a paper journal Now you may say I want to do it on my computer but there's something about the computer that tends to distract us from those notifications but there's something about writing it down with pen or pencil and paper and get you to journal doesn't have to be expensive one just a cheap notebook but write down the date and and journal and write out the text in your own words I highly highly recommend you do that and as you write it down and as you're praying through the verse you will find that God is speaking to your soul which brings us to our number 6 Ask God Lord what are you trying to tell me through this passage. The Word of God is his voice speaking to our soul. There are times when God speaks to us through impressions through signs but God is speaking specifically to our hearts and to our souls through His Word is the most cognitive and the most accurate way that we can know that God is speaking it is through His Word and so as you look at these verses Isaiah 41 verse 10 What is God trying to tell you when he says fear not for I am with you be not dismayed for I am your God reflect on that and write it out what is God saying to you and I write out David like God is speak to me through this verse I want you to not be afraid I am with you and as you write it out you will know that God is speaking to you through this for such as I say a 41 verse 10 we come to Number 7 write your prayer response to God So God speaks to us through His word and you write it down reflecting on the verse reflecting on what God is saying to you through the verses and then after that you respond in a prayer to God Lord I believe you. I trust you that when you say fear not that I can believe that you are my God I can believe that I have nothing to fear nothing to be anxious about and you can find that this is ministering to your soul and to your needs for that day we come to our last one number 8 Think about the bible passage throughout the day so as you leave that devotional time and that devotional reflection meditate which means think about that verse and what God said to you that mornings are out the day now there are times when we're consumed when with household chores and things but but there are moments that we have some idle time to think about something why encourage you to think about the Word of God Think about how God spoke to you that morning and this is what Biblical meditation is to fill our mind with the Word of God and as you do this you will find in perceptively many times that you are being spiritually nourished you are spiritually growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ I want to review this very quickly with you practical pointers for our devotional life. Number one s. to Lord to create in you a deeper desire for him number 2 Set a regular time and place to have devotions number 3 pray before you begin and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you number 4 choose a passage of scripture you can start off with practical books like 1st the Sloan Ian's or James number 5 paraphrase the passage in your own words in your journal or your sheet of paper Number 6 ask God Lord what are you trying to tell me through this passage number 7 Write your prayer response to God Number 8 think about the bible passage throughout the day friends we can do this we can use this time as an opportunity to grow spiritually through a regular consistent devotional time. Let us make a commitment to turn off the television let's make a commitment to fast from social media for certain periods of our week or our day to to fast from media consumption and to spend time in prayer and the study of God's word to spend time in devotions and you will find that your spiritual life will take off you will find that when we come out of this crisis that you are stronger spiritually than when you went into it as we close I want to share with you one of my favorite quotes from the book steps to Christ consecrate yourself to God in the morning make this your very 1st work let your prayer be take me oh Lord as holy than I lay all my plans at the feet use me today in the service Abide With Me and let all my work be wrought in the this is a daily matter each morning consecrate yourself to God for that day surrender all your plans to him to be carried out or to be given up as his providence shall indicate thus day by day you may be giving your life into the hands of God and thus your life will be molded more and more after the life of Christ every day friends let us make a commitment to get up to consecrate ourselves to God for that day this in Lord I'm yours I give my heart to you create in me a clean heart oh God and renew our right spirit within me to open God's word and say Lord Create in me a deeper desire for you to ask for the Holy Spirit to guide us in our study of the Word of God to reflect upon his word to hear his voice speaking to us and to talk back to Him in prayer what a privilege. This communion time can be this media was brought to you by audio verse a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse if you would like to listen to more sermon or leave a visit w.w.w. audio verse or.

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