Let me begin this study with a question which only you can answer honestly within yourself. How often do you spend time with God alone?
We live in a world, particularly in the West, which is dominated by what we see and look like. My closeness to God is measured by most others, as how vocal and active I am in my fellowship and locality! Do I look and sound the part? Tragically, many will stop there, and take their relationship with God no further.
Thankfully, God is not like that. My Father in heaven is much more interested in what I’m like when I spend time with Him. Much more motivated by what I say in prayer. He seeks out individuals who are like this.
My Lord Jesus said – ‘But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him’, John 4. 23 ESV.
There are times in my life, even times this year, when I would struggle not to be embarrassed in answering my own question? I’m sure I’m not the only Christian who struggles with time; trying to juggle everything I have to deal with in business, study, family, and friends.
When I was a teenager a very kind believer in my fellowship bought me an alarm clock. Her intention was for me to use it, and ensure I spent time with God alone. As I look back over my life, it was one of the best gifts I’ve ever received.
Ever since, I have tried to rise up early, and spend the first part of the day with God. There are times when I have failed woefully. There are parts of my life when the only time I was in God’s presence was when I met with the church. I suspect many are living their Christian lives like this, and they take it no further.
A few years ago, I heard what I think was a really good definition of Christian maturity. It can be measured by the length of time it takes from God speaking to me, hearing Him, and putting what He’s saying into practice. The shorter the time the more mature is my Christianity.
I know from experience that God speaks through His word. I can think of many examples in my own life. ‘Coincidently’ these experiences take place when I’m closer to God and putting Him first. I have a close relationship with God. He is my Father. Just like any relationship, the closer I get the more I find out about the people, the more I get to know what they like, and dislike. It’s exactly like this with my Father in Heaven! Let me just pause there and consider how amazing this last section is. I have a relationship with God who spoke and brought the universe into place. The God who upholds the worlds is interested in what I have to say to Him. Wow!!!!
… and yet at times I choose to gratify self over spending time with Him.
Jesus said – ‘Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me’, Mark 8. 34 NKJV. When we read this, or, rather, when I read this, I sometimes think about denying self in relation to things and possessions. Even worse, sometimes I don’t think about it at all. It’s just one of those verses that you can look clever with by posting it on Facebook, or preaching on it.
As I get older I’m realizing I can’t get through the day without denying self and spending time with God – in order to be in any way effective for God. The more time I spend with Him the better my witness is, the more opportunities I have to speak for Him, the much richer my Christian experience is.
Let me finish with two things as a challenge: firstly, to myself and to any who have stuck with reading this piece all the way through.
Secondly, rather than finish with what I think let me finish with what the psalmist says – ’Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the Lord! Blessed are those who keep His testimonies, who seek Him with their whole heart’, Ps. 119. 1, 2 ESV.