How to Spend Time with God

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By Brian Sharpe

The way my brain works, I need peace and quiet in a room that I am going to study in. There can be no mess. I need a solid block of uninterrupted time for me to get good study time in. The problem is that, up until this last month, I didn’t really have that at my house. I could finagle it, but my brain for some reason knows I am finagling it and just gets distracted.

Well, we are at the tail end of a remodel at our house. We have taken some walls out and put some walls in. One of the areas we created by putting some walls in was an office. I could not wait for my office. I was excited to have a place where I could go, have some peace and quiet, pray, and spend time with God. The problem was that when we finished the office, my parents were still in town and my dad took over the office as his office. He needs a space to work, so I was glad to have it for him, but I was waiting for my turn in the office so I could get my peace and quiet.

Well, once my parents left, I took some time in my office. It was so nice to get some peace and quiet time. I just listened to music and read my Bible. I prayer-journaled, and it was heavenly. As I prayer-journaled, I realized something. I realized that I had a faulty view of spending time with God. I thought spending time with God meant that I set aside 10 minutes or more time a day just to read my Bible and pray. You remember the song that says, “Read your Bible and pray every day and you will grow, grow, grow”? That is what I thought it meant to spend time with God. I needed my office where I could get away and read and pray.

However, while that may be important, it is not what is needed to spend time with God. God is always with us. He is always with us. He will never leave us. When we wake, He is there. When we sleep, He is there.

O LORD, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my thoughts even when I’m far away. You see me when I travel and when I rest at home. You know everything I do. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, LORD. You go before me and follow me. You place your hand of blessing on my head. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too great for me to understand!   I can never escape from your Spirit! I can never get away from your presence!   If I go up to heaven, you are there; if I go down to the grave, you are there. If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me.

Psalm 139:1-10

Spending time with God is not something we have to work at; it is something we have to acknowledge we are always doing. See, I believed the lie that knowledge equals intimacy with God. Knowledge is good, but it doesn’t always equal intimacy. Intimacy comes from spending time together. It comes from me recognizing that God is always with me as well as entering into the journey with Him. It is me talking with God throughout my day, remembering that He is there. It is sitting and listening to Him as we process what is going on in life. It is inviting Him to teach me about Himself when I read my Bible. It is me recognizing He is always with me, no matter where I am and what I am doing. It is a change in perspective. It goes from needing to spend time with God to me always spending time with God and realizing it.

I want to encourage you today to acknowledge God’s ever-present presence in your life and to talk through all that you are doing today with Him. We need to live understanding He is with us, not hoping we will get time with Him.

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What steals your joy? How do you get it back?

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By Larry Short

Did you know that Jesus wants us to experience joy? In His “high priestly prayer” in John 17:13, as He was getting ready for a torturous crucifixion and departure from this earth, Jesus prayed in the hearing of His disciples: “I say these things while I am still in the world, that they may have the full measure of my joy within them.”

Christ’s desire for us is that our lives be overflowing with joy! But we too often allow that joy to be stolen away. In our May 27, 2012 worship service (MP3) we looked at one thing, and a very subtle thing, that frequently steals our joy: distraction.

In the parable of the sower, Mark 4:18-19, Christ warns of the serious danger of distraction: “Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.”

Did you know that “the worries of this life” are one of the distractions that has the potential to choke out the word of God in us and make us unfruitful? Like Martha in Luke 10, we might feel we are only “merely distracted,” but Jesus looks at our fixation on busyness and our worries and our upsetness, calls it what it is, and warns us that it can derail us. Distraction can rob us of the joy that He desires us to experience as we abide in Him.

Those of us with this addiction to busyness might think that happiness comes from much activity. But the reality is the opposite: True joy comes when we learn how to release the “good things” in order to focus on the “best thing.”

So, what’s the alternative to distraction? It’s a choice, according to Jesus, and it’s the choice that Mary made in Luke 10:38-42. Martha was preparing her home for a special guest, and Mary came over to help her. But when Jesus arrived, Mary left her sister working and went and sat down at Jesus’ feet, listening to him.

After Martha complained, Jesus revealed that what she had seen as mere distraction was in reality a far more serious problem: “Martha, Martha! You are upset and worried about many things. But few things are needed — indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better.”

Mary sat quietly at the feet of Christ and let His Word wash over her. That alone had the potential to transform her life.

When confronted with such a choice, what do we need to do? First, count the cost. As with finding freedom from any addiction, there is a price to healing. In order to focus your attention on the best thing, you may have to give up a good thing or two: a hobby, a favorite TV show, three cups of coffee in the morning, perhaps even a ministry task. None of these are bad things. But sometimes we must give up a good thing in order to find the best thing. Jesus told the rich young ruler to “Go, sell all that you have, give it to the poor, and come follow me.” He knew that was the bitter medicine that young man needed to find freedom from his distractions, and to focus his all on following God.

With Christ, it’s all or nothing, isn’t it? The man in the parable who found the pearl of great price, went and sold everything that he had to obtain the field it was buried in. God’s grace to us is free: but it’s not cheap. It cost Him everything to purchase our freedom. We must be willing to give up everything for Him.

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