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BCT 8 - Appointment with God

"AS THE DEER PANTS FOR THE WATER BROOKS, so my soul pants for Thee, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God" (Psalm 42:1-2 NASB). "I shall seek Thee earnestly; my soul thirsts for Thee, my flesh yearns for Thee" (Psalm 63:1 NASB). Thirst for God and yearning for His fellowship was the stirring cry of the Psalmist in his devotion to the Holy One. What greater communion could there be than with the Lord of life and glory? What higher privilege could we have than a divine encounter - time with God? It has been well said that if you love someone, you will spend time with him. We who profess to love the Lord can hardly dispense with spending time alone with Him. The rush of daily living relentlessly squeezes our lives in a vise of clamoring demands. We are consumed by "busyness" and thus fail to lay hold of our riches in Christ. Our daily walk requires an appointment with God, set aside as a sacred trust and not to be lightly broken. If we have made it, He will be waiting.

Time And Place

1. When Should We Commune With Him? In every time of trouble He is near (Psalm 20:1; 46:1). There is no time when we cannot call upon our Father. Yet stated times have long been the practice of the godly. These may be as frequent as morning, noon and evening (Psalm 55:17; Daniel 6:10). They may even occur at midnight (Psalm 119:62). However, we tend to grow busy during the day, and weariness drains our strength at night. The best preparation for a day is to ensure that we have seen the face of God before we see the face of man. God’s men often sought Him early. “In the morning, O Lord, Thou wilt hear my voice; in the morning I will order my prayer to Thee and eagerly watch” (Psalm 5:3 NASB). “He awakens Me morning by morning. He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple” (Isaiah 50:4b NASB). “I rise before dawn” (Psalm 119:147 NASB). It was in the morning that the children of Israel were summoned by the Lord to gather the manna, the heavenly bread which was to sustain them throughout the day (Exodus 16:21). The best of all beginnings is the one which is with God.

[Psa 20:1 NKJV] 1 To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. May the LORD answer you in the day of trouble; May the name of the God of Jacob defend you;

[Psa 46:1 NKJV] 1 To the Chief Musician. [A Psalm] of the sons of Korah. A Song for Alamoth. God [is] our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble.

[Psa 55:17 NKJV] 17 Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, And He shall hear my voice.

[Dan 6:10 NKJV] 10 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 three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.

[Psa 119:62 NKJV] 62 At midnight I will rise to give thanks to You, Because of Your righteous judgments.

[Psa 119:147 NKJV] 147 I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help; I hope in Your word.

[Exo 16:21 NKJV] 21 So they gathered it every morning, every man according to his need. And when the sun became hot, it melted.

2. Where Should We Meet With Him? God is available everywhere. Our task is to find a place to meet with Him without interruption or distraction. In His earthly life, our Lord sought such a place. “In the early morning, while it was still dark, He arose and went out and departed to a lonely place, and was praying there” (Mark 1:35 NASB). He often prayed alone in the hills (Matthew 14:23). On our part, a room or kitchen corner may do as well as a mountain top. The need is to be alone with Him for personal attention.

[Mat 14:23 NKJV] 23 And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.

Purpose Of Meeting

What are we to seek? Supremely, we want to seek Him. Communion with God is primarily for the purpose of deepening our roots in Him, rather than completing study projects. Ideally it should be a time of appreciation, fellowship and a warming of our hearts, as well as instruction. It can strengthen us by giving us great thoughts about God. It can provide guidance concerning His will for our lives. It is good to linger before Him and to refuse to leave until we have truly met Him and had His blessing (Genesis 32:26). Nothing we can do for God or do for others will take the place of this blessing. Therefore, we should not rush into and rush out of His presence. The Enemy of our souls will violently oppose and hinder our efforts to maintain a disciplined devotional life. He knows it is a benefit in the lives of the devout and its absence is a detriment in the lives of spiritual drifters.
Fellowship with God is a two-way street. When we meditate upon the Word of God, He speaks to us. When we lift our hands in prayer, we speak to Him. Both are a part of time with God. Even silent waiting upon Him can be helpful in hearing His voice.

[Gen 32:26 NKJV] 26 And He said, "Let Me go, for the day breaks." But he said, "I will not let You go unless You bless me!"

1. Listen To God. The Lord Jesus said that man must live by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). If this be true, then God must be given the opportunity to speak to our souls, to grip our very being with Himself, with His will, with His ways. To avoid undisciplined, irregular skipping from place to place in the Bible, we need to read chapters and books of Scripture consecutively. We need to read slowly, thoughtfully and with careful consideration of the parts as well as the whole. It is particularly helpful if we take time to meditate on some thought or verse in which God is speaking to us (Psalm 119:15,23, 48, 78, 97). Reading through a section at a leisurely pace, even twice over, will help to settle it in our minds. This will prepare us to ask various questions about the passage: What does the passage say? (Observation) What does the passage mean? (Interpretation) Check the meaning of difficult words you do not understand. How does this passage apply to my life? (Application) Always remember that conformity to the character of Christ is God’s objective in our lives (Romans 8:29).

[Mat 4:4 NKJV] 4 But He answered and said, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.' "

[Psa 119:15, 23, 48, 78, 97 NKJV] 15 I will meditate on Your precepts, And contemplate Your ways. ... 23 Princes also sit [and] speak against me, [But] Your servant meditates on Your statutes. ... 48 My hands also I will lift up to Your commandments, Which I love, And I will meditate on Your statutes. ... 78 Let the proud be ashamed, For they treated me wrongfully with falsehood; [But] I will meditate on Your precepts. ... 97 MEM. Oh, how I love Your law! It [is] my meditation all the day.

[Rom 8:29 NKJV] 29 For whom He foreknew, He also predestined [to be] conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.

Stephen Olford notes four significant purposes of the daily devotional time.

1 These are:

  • spiritual health (1 Peter 2:2)
  • spiritual cleansing in a world of defilement (Psalm 119:9; John 15:3; 17:17)
  • spiritual counsel (2 Timothy 3:16; Psalm 73:24)
  • spiritual conflict (Ephesians 6:17).

[1Pe 2:2 NKJV] 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,

[Psa 119:9 NKJV] 9 BETH. How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word.

[Jhn 15:3 NKJV] 3 "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.

[Jhn 17:17 NKJV] 17 "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

[2Ti 3:16 NKJV] 16 All Scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,

[Psa 73:24 NKJV] 24 You will guide me with Your counsel, And afterward receive me [to] glory.

[Eph 6:17 NKJV] 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God;

The effective intake of the Word and its personal application are aided by a devotional notebook in which we note the date, text and key verse in which God spoke to us and then the application or spiritual insight. An application is most helpful when it is specific rather than general. God opens the eyes of those who are ready to obey whatever He would show them (Psalm 119:18).

[Psa 119:18 NKJV] 18 Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law.

2. TALK TO GOD. Prayer is drawing near by faith to speak to God in honesty and simplicity. It should not be formal or a mere repetition of certain forms (Matthew 6:7). Keeping our words fresh and conversational maintains reality and honesty before God. An excellent beginning is to speak in praise and adoration of God’s personal excellencies (worship). This should remind us of the need to learn more of His attributes. We can express our gratitude for His many blessings, both spiritual and material (thanksgiving). We are invited to bring the needs of others before Him (intercession). Here it is helpful to have a prayer reminder list which is kept updated. This can be divided so as not to attempt covering every request every day. One system (from Olford) uses the first letter of the days of week as a key:

  • Monday for missionaries
  • Tuesday for thanksgiving for blessings and answers to prayer
  • Wednesday for workers in the local or national scene
  • Thursday for tasks in the ministry or on the job
  • Friday for family
  • Saturday for saints (believers) in their special needs and
  • Sunday for sinners or those needing to be saved.

Some believers keep a place for answers to their prayers. There is often need of confession. Finally, remember to petition for personal needs regardless of how small or large they seem (Philippians 4:6-7).

[Mat 6:7 NKJV] 7 "And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen [do]. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.

[Phl 4:6-7 NKJV] 6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Pointers To Remember

1. Have a regular time and quiet place. Schedule the time and stick to it. Be able to pray aloud without disturbing others. Start with a small amount of time (20 minutes) and gradually increase it.
2. Have all the needed materials (Bible, notebook, pen) ready before retiring. Devotional books are stimulating, but are not to be used as a substitute for independent, consecutive study of Scripture. Have a plan for going through the Bible. Do not attempt to read more Scripture than can be spiritually digested. A dozen verses or a chapter is usually sufficient.
3. Go to bed early. Late hours rob us of freshness when rising. Get up promptly. Do not roll over for a few more minutes of sleep. Get up, wash and be alert.
4. Ask God to speak to you and to manifest His presence.
5. Be expectant, believing and listening for God. Shut off mind-wandering by a deliberate act of the will. Think of the Lord, rather than being preoccupied with self.
6. Do not hurry God. Meditate on what you are reading. Pause in your prayers and listen for God.
7. Jot down thoughts in your devotional notebook. Make notes for further study or for a prayer list. Plan to share your thoughts with a friend or prayer partner.

Olford says that devotional time with God "is absolutely vital to a life of sustained spirituality, effectiveness and love. It is the barometer of he Christian life." 2 May we ask: Have you made an appointment to meet with God each day? Do you keep it faithfully? Can you be victorious in your spiritual life without time with God?

1 “Manna in the Morning,” by Stephen Olford. Moody Press, Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. Used by permission.
2 “Manna in the Morning.” Used by permission.

Appointment With God
1. What priority of the Christian life is indicated in Psalm 42:1-2? Why is this necessary for a growing relationship with the Lord?

[Psa 42:1-2 NKJV] 1 To the Chief Musician. A Contemplation of the sons of Korah. As the deer pants for the water brooks, So pants my soul for You, O God. 2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. When shall I come and appear before God?

2. Why do we need regular time with God?
John 15:3 1 Samuel 1:19a
1 Peter 2:2 Psalm 143:8
Romans 12:2

[Jhn 15:3 NKJV] 3 "You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you.

[1Sa 1:19 NKJV] 19 Then they rose early in the morning and worshiped before the LORD, and returned and came to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the LORD remembered her.

[1Pe 2:2 NKJV] 2 as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby,

[Psa 143:8 NKJV] 8 Cause me to hear Your lovingkindness in the morning, For in You do I trust; Cause me to know the way in which I should walk, For I lift up my soul to You.

[Rom 12:2 NKJV] 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what [is] that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

3. Describe the activity of Mary in Luke 10:38-42. What was Jesus’ evaluation of her actions?
Describe the attitude and actions of Martha as she hosts Jesus in her home.
How did Martha’s spiritual insensitivity limit the value of her service? What must come before service (Luke 5:15-16)?

[Luk 10:38-42 NKJV] 38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me." 41 And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 "But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."

[Luk 5:15-16 NKJV] 15 However, the report went around concerning Him all the more; and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by Him of their infirmities. 16 So He Himself [often] withdrew into the wilderness and prayed.

4. What are some ways in which we indicate that we often value service/activities above our fellowship with the Lord? What should you do when you sense this is happening in your life?

5. What are some good times to regularly “sit at Jesus’ feet” (Daniel 6:10; Psalm 119:147-148)? What are the distinct advantages of the different times of the day (compare Psalm 1:2)?

[Dan 6:10 NKJV] 10 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 three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.

[Psa 119:147-148 NKJV] 147 I rise before the dawning of the morning, And cry for help; I hope in Your word. 148 My eyes are awake through the [night] watches, That I may meditate on Your word.

[Psa 1:2 NKJV] 2 But his delight [is] in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night.

6. When the Israelites were wandering in the wilderness, God provided manna, “the bread from heaven,” for their food. How frequently were they to gather the manna? What happened if they waited until later in the day (Exodus 16:21)? What applications can you make from this passage regarding spending regular time with God?
Where did Jesus go to spend time with the Father (Mark 1:33-35)? Why do you think He chose the early morning for this time alone with the Father?

[Exo 16:21 NKJV] 21 So they gathered it every morning, every man according to his need. And when the sun became hot, it melted.

[Mar 1:33-35 NKJV] 33 And the whole city was gathered together at the door. 34 Then He healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He did not allow the demons to speak, because they knew Him. 35 Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.

7. What are some things we can do in our time alone with God?
Psalm 5:3 Isaiah 50:4b

[Psa 5:3 NKJV] 3 My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD; In the morning I will direct [it] to You, And I will look up.

[Isa 50:4 NKJV] 4 "The Lord GOD has given Me The tongue of the learned, That I should know how to speak a word in season to [him who is] weary. He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear To hear as the learned.

8. What are some hindrances to an effective time alone with God?
Proverbs 6:9 Psalm 66:18
Luke 10:41
How would you deal with these in your life?

[Pro 6:9 NKJV] 9 How long will you slumber, O sluggard? When will you rise from your sleep?

[Psa 66:18 NKJV] 18 If I regard iniquity in my heart, The Lord will not hear.

[Luk 10:41 NKJV] 41 And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.

9. Paraphrase (rewrite in your own words) Psalm 63:1. How does this express your own desire to know Him?

[Psa 63:1 NKJV] 1 A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, You [are] my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water.

10. Do you have a regular time for daily fellowship alone with God?
How much time would you estimate that you spend alone with God in a devotional way each day? each week?
What is the best time(s) of the day for you to meet with God?

"With God’s help, I desire to spend at least_____minutes a day alone with God, from
_____ to____ (state time of day)." SIGNED_______________________________

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