What Is Quiet Time? Pt 1 of 2

“Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed” (Mark 1:35).

We are in the first week of Advent. Advent comes from the Latin word meaning “coming.” The four weeks of Advent is used by Christians to prepare and remember the real meaning of Christ’s coming. This is a season of preparation: preparing ourselves to the reality of Christ’s coming. One of the best ways followers of Jesus Christ can do this is to commit to setting aside a daily regular time to spend with God.

Christians call this Quiet Time.

One of the questions I sometimes get is, “What am I supposed to do in quiet time?”

That’s a great question. There are several things to note about why this is such a needed practice for followers of Jesus.

  1. This was the regular practice of Jesus. Jesus made time to be with God, the Father, on a daily basis. If we are “followers” of Jesus, we follow what Jesus practiced.
  2. If Jesus time with God, it goes without saying, we need time with God to listen for God’s guidance and leading!

What does one do in Quiet Time? What is a Quiet Time?

  1. Notice that there was a specific time of the day that Jesus spent time with God. For Jesus, this was “very early in the morning.” For most people, this works best. Early morning. But not everyone is a morning person. The time of the day is not as important as setting aside a specific time of the day. You ought to stick to that time as much as you can.
  2. Notice the specific location – “Jesus left the house and went off to a solitary place.” Location matters. This ought to be a place where you can get alone with God. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to find an isolated place from all people. Before covid, my favorite place to do my quiet times was at Starbucks. Even though there were people around, I could get alone with God to read, reflect, pray, and journal. I miss my morning times with God at Starbucks!
  3. Notice what Jesus did – “Jesus went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.” Praying isn’t just saying things to God. Praying is a conversation. Praying has to do with listening as much as it does with requesting. The way Jesus listened was by talking with God. The way we primarily listen to God is through God’s word.
  4. Here is a quick outline of what a Quiet Time might look like.
    • Open with prayer
      • Thanking God for the day
      • Thanking God for what God is about to reveal to you today
    • Read God’s word
      • http://www.youversion.com has fantastic Bible reading plans
      • As you read, listen to what God might want to say to you through his word
    • Close with prayer
  5. How much time should I set aside for quiet times with God? I would suggest you setting aside at least 10 to 15 minutes a day to read, reflect, and pray. The more you spend time with God, you will see your time with God increasing. But 10 to 15 minutes is a good start.

This is the season of Advent – the season where we celebrate the coming of Christ by preparing ourselves to live into the reality that Christ has come. One of the best ways you can do that is by setting aside a time and place every day to spend time with God. I challenge you to do it.

Thanking God for 2020

“O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his steadfast love endures for ever!” (Psalm 118:1).

I trust you had a good Thanksgiving Day.

I know. For most of us, things were different this year. The Kim’s normally head up to Bothell for Thanksgiving. Typically there are five to seven families and all our kids gathered for a Thanksgiving feast. This is one of the highlights of the year as the cousins get together with our families.

This year. It was just our immediate family minus Kaitlin who is teaching in Houston, and who chose not to come up because of covid.

As I write this on Thanksgiving Day, I am reminded of several truths.

First, the phrase, “give thanks” is in the imperative. I find it interesting that the call to give thanks in both the New and the Old Testament are normally written in the imperative. Isn’t it strange to command someone to “give thanks”? Isn’t being thankful something one feels and then expresses gratitude by giving thanks?

That’s a good observation. That’s the way “thanking” works for us. We feel and then we express gratitude.

Notice that the text calls us to “give” thanks not “feel” thanks. This is important. A year like 2020 makes it difficult to always “feel” thankful. In fact, there have been lots of occasions in which there was not much to feel thankful for. It would be strange to ask us to feel thankful when we’re going through hard situations. But that’s not what the text calls for. The text calls us to “give” thanks.

The reason why the Biblical text calls us to “give” thanks is because God is the God “who brought us out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Deuteronomy 5:6), and because of all that God has done in Jesus Christ for us. That’s the foundation of gratitude. We are to give thanks because of all that God has already done for us.

As I was doing my daily devotionals, I wrote down things I was particularly thankful for in 2020 and I invite you to do the same today. Here are the things I was most thankful for 2020.

  1. For God being my God and Savior. I can’t imagine how anyone can live through life without God. What would be the point? All this living, striving, struggling, toiling? If this world is all there is what is all this for? It would be so pointless. I thank God for being my God and Savior because life here would be dreadfully meaningless without God.
  2. I thank God for my family. I am thankful that we are healthy and we all have the means to take care of ourselves. Not everyone is as fortunate. I am truly grateful for all my family.
  3. I thank God for the Little Church and Lakewoodgrace family. I am so thankful for you. You are an amazing church. Not every church gives, shares, loves, and cares as you do. You are remarkable. We have managed to increase God’s reach and impact through 2020. Most churches are struggling and managing. The Little Church and Lakewoodgrace continues to innovate and look for new ways to increase God’s kingdom impact. That’s awesome! I love serving our amazing God with you.

No. 2020 has not gone the way I had hoped.

But 2020 has shown how amazing our God is and how resilient, open, and innovative the Little Church and Lakewoodgrace is.

Yes! 2020. I thank God for you!

Rejoice, Pray, Give Thanks!

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

“For this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Now we’re talking. That’s clarity. No guessing what God’s will is. “This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

So what is God’s will for you and me?

  • Rejoice always
  • Pray continually
  • Give thanks in all circumstances

Before we look at the specifics, you should know that each of these verbs (rejoice, pray, give thanks) are all written as imperatives. These aren’t suggestions. These are commands.

The second thing you should know about each of these commands are that they are dependent on the clause, “in Christ Jesus.”

Jesus is the key to understanding why these are commands.

Rejoice always.

Why? Because, for the Christian, our joy is dependent on something that’s already done for us. Our joy is not dependent upon a future event. Our joy springs from something that’s already been done and completed on our behalf in Christ Jesus. We are commanded to rejoice because God has already done for us all that we could not do for ourselves. Jesus has already paid the debt of sin for those who have received Jesus as Lord and Savior. Because of the cross of Jesus Christ, “he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14).

Rejoice always because in Christ we are sons and daughters of God.

Pray continually. Why? Because, for the Christian, we have direct access to the Creator of the universe through prayer. There is nothing that we face that our Father cannot handle and take care of. Whatever circumstances we face we have the ability to pray and involve the Father. So whatever it is you are going through today, through prayer, we never face our difficulties alone. Our God is always with us. Not only that, our Father has our back. We can face our present circumstances and future knowing that our Father has our back. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31).

Give thanks in all circumstances. We give thanks in all circumstances knowing there is “nothing in the created universe that can separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:39). We give thanks “in all circumstances because we know that all things work together for the good for those who love Jesus” (Romans 8:28).

This is great news! In fact, this is God’s will for you.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).