Character and Personal Devotions
INTRODUCTION: This message will not be deep in the sense of theology. Rather in our continuing study on Developing a Godly Character I want to answer what I believe is a problem in the lives of many Christians. Questions:
Do you have a regular, spiritual DEVOTIONAL LIFE?
Do you know how to PRAY and how to READ YOUR BIBLE TO NOURISH YOUR SOUL?
If this is an average crowd, probably 45% of you do not have regular private devotions. And even a far greater percentage, do not know how to have them, even though you try. I am concerned. On numerous occasions, I have said that there is more Christian material on the market today than ever before. But there is also a greater absence of knowledge and understanding of how to live the Christian life than ever before.
Why is this? I believe the answer is, too many of God's people are letting others (the pastor, Bible teachers, or writers of Christian material) do the thinking for you. You are just taking in what they say and not really finding truth for yourselves.
In II Timothy 3:15-17 we read, “And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (16) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: (17) That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
Now I need you to focus your undivided attention upon FIVE ways you and I handle the Word of God.
First: We are to MEDITATE upon Scripture, according to Joshua 1:1-9; Psalm 1:1-3. In our modern-day, hyped-up type of Christianity, we have not included any time for MEDITATION. We are too much in a hurry to sit down and take time to know in an intimate way our personal God, our personal Christ, and our personal Holy Spirit along with all the blessings and promises God has given to us in His INSTRUCTIONAL MANUAL, the BIBLE!
Second: We are to STUDY the Scriptures, as found in II Timothy 2:15 where we read, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
Third: We are to READ the Bible, as found in Revelation 1:3, "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it…"
Fourth: We are to HEAR the Bible preached and taught.
In Romans 10:17 we read, "Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the Word of God."
In James I: 22-25 we are told, “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: For he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed.”
Fifth: We are to MEMORIZE the Word of God. Psalms 119:11 tells us, "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee."
These are the five ways we are to appropriate the Word of God, the Bible, into our lives through READING, MEMORIZATION, HEARING, STUDYING, and MEDITATION. Now let me take a few minutes to show you how to have a personal devotional time using your Bible. Every day is a microcosm of life, death and resurrection. Every day is a tiny life. We spend:
the youth of the morning,
the mid-life of the noontime,
the declining years toward sunset, and
then we sleep.
This is followed the next morning by the resurrection. In a sense, every day is a life of its own, where the ROUTINE is the USUAL while the SPECTACULAR is the UNUSUAL. Now if the Christian is to live the Spirit-filled life, one must live a disciplined, scheduled life. Therefore, there are some things we ought to do on a regular basis. Let me give you a list of things you ought to do during your devotional time.
Number 1. Daily, in the morning, you ought to set a time to meet with the Holy Spirit. In Ephesians 5:18 we read, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;…” Yes, this is a moment by moment surrendering to the control of the Holy Spirit. In fact, there ought to be a time in the morning during which you start the process. This is where you YIELD:
Your EYES to see or not see the things God wants you to see,
Your MIND to think only those things God wants you to think,
Your EARS to hear only those things the Holy Spirit wants you to hear,
Your WILL to make decisions based upon truth and conviction,
Your HANDS to do the work of God today,
Your FEET to walk the path of righteousness, and
Your FEELINGS, so that your EMOTIONS will be in tune to the Holy Spirit.
Number 2. Daily, in the morning, ask the Holy Spirit to bring across your path those whom you could encourage, help, or even perhaps lead to Christ. In other words ask the Holy Spirit to make you soul conscious, leading you to others to whom you could minister.
Number 3. Once a week, choose a time to fast and pray. In Mark 9:29 we read, "And he that is Jesus said unto them, this kind comes forth by nothing but by prayer and fasting. "
There are some needs that will only be met by a time of Fasting and Prayer.
There are some impossible situations that will only receive God's blessings or answers by praying and fasting.
Fasting is not only good for the body physically, but it is also a way to TURN UP THE VOLUME TO GOD, letting Him know how important this need is. I encourage you as I have on a weekly basis set from approximately 1:00-2:00 on Sunday afternoon until 1:00-2:00 on Monday afternoon to fast. I challenge you to make this a regular part of your spiritual week.
Number 4. Throughout the day, ask the Holy Spirit to help you and lead you in every task. What I am saying is to be in constant contact with the Holy Spirit, God the Father, and Jesus. While you are preparing for a task, ask God to give you wisdom for the task. ‘
Did it not say in James 1:5, "If any of you lack wisdom let him ask of God…"? As you start the task, ask the Holy Spirit to lead you. Then as you go through that task ask Jesus to bless you and others in the task.
Number 5. Every morning ask the Holy Spirit to clothe you in the Armor of God. We live in a very wicked world where the Devil is the god of this world. We are in a battle for the souls of men against the devil and his co-hosts. It is for this reason that God has commanded us to put on the whole armor of God, that we may be able to stand against the evil ways of the Devil.
Now for many people Ephesians 6:10-18 might be a nice portion of scripture. But I believe God put it there for us to pray it on spiritually each day in the same way you would dress yourself each day. Each day pray on the armor of God. Now if you can't remember to do this during your devotions, then pray on the armor of God while you are dressing in the morning. This is how I do it:
Holy Spirit, put upon me the Helmet of Salvation to protect my mind from evil and sinful thoughts.
Holy Spirit, put on me the breastplate of righteousness to help me to live and walk righteously.
Holy Spirit, dress me with the girdle of truth that I may know the truth and walk in the truth.
Holy Spirit, put in my hand the Sword of the Spirit which is the weapon of the Word of God.
Holy Spirit, put on my feet the shoes of the gospel that I may be prepared to lead someone to Christ.
Holy Spirit, put in my other hand the shield of faith to protect me from what the devil will throw my way.
All the above things I can do during my devotions, or after, and even throughout the day. However, during the time of my devotions there are two specific things I always do.
I spend time in prayer. I have a comprehensive prayer list tucked into my Bible. Create a prayer list for yourself, and keep it handy by your Bible. Also, keep the church directory and the church weekly prayer bulletin nearby. Please note: unless there is a request for some immediate concern, you may want to break up your prayer list into days and place specific items next to those days. For example, except for my wife whom I pray for every day, each of my family members has a specific day, and each day, I pray for three or four different church families.
There are four basic areas I have on my prayer list:
1. Family, this means you need to know the needs of your family
2. Personal needs and my ministry needs
3. Ministries of the church and more particular the situations of the day which I need to face, and
4. The Nation and our leaders
5. Others, which includes people, places and things.
I begin every Morning this way, by saying Good Morning Dear Heavenly Father, Good Morning Dear Jesus, Good Morning Holy Spirit. Then there are times when I just praise the Father for who He is or Jesus for what He has done or the Holy Spirit who guides me.
Talk to God like you would a friend, He is, isn't he?
What a friend we have in Jesus,
What a friend we have in God,
What a friend we have in The Holy Spirit.
Talk to God like you would your father about your needs, desires, and your problems, because Romans 8:15 tells us that God is our "ABBA FATHER."
I read my Bible. During this set time for my personal devotion I read my Bible.
Deuteronomy 17:19 tells us, "Read therein all the days of his life; that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of His law and the statues to do them." Again
In Revelation 1:3 we read, "Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written…"
I have one Bible I use for my devotions, I study from another Bible for my sermon preparation, and it is also the one I preach from, unless I use my Soul Winning New Testament. And, I use a third Bible, a Personal Workers New Testament, which I carry on visitation.
During this time I do not do my studying, nor my listening, nor any memorization, I just read the Word and then sit back and meditate upon what I have read. I read three books in my devotions more than any other:
If I want Power, I read Acts.
If I want Wisdom, I read Proverbs.
If I want to Love more, I read Psalms.
For me, I usually read the passages I will be preaching during that week. There are times, like now, I will read the book I will be preaching from in advance, as I am doing with the book of Joshua. Perhaps I might also read a portion of the Psalms or Proverbs.
My suggestion for you is to choose either an entire Book of the Bible to read, or a section of scripture that gives a biographic description of a character or a section on a subject such as the tabernacle.
Bible reading is not difficult as many Christians think. Far too long we have allowed the theologians to intimidate us into believing that we cannot study the Bible, if we don’t know the original languages, or if we don’t have the latest Bible Study helps. DO NOT FALL FOR THAT!
We have the same HOLY SPIRIT Who gave every word of the Bible to those men who penned it. He is now LIVING IN YOU to teach you all things written in the Bible. You must be willing to take the time to read it CAREFULLY and PRAYERFULLY.
If God has spoken to your heart after reading the sermon "Character and Personal Devotions" right now talk to God about what He has spoken to you.
Do you have the assurance that one day you will go to heaven? If you have no assurance that you know Jesus Christ, then I trust you will decide to accept Him as your personal Savior. The Bible tells us in
Acts 16:31, “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…”
Romans 10:13, “For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
This prayer is here for those who need to ask Jesus to be their personal Savior: “I do want to go to Heaven. I know I am a sinner, and I do believe Jesus Christ died for me. I realize I cannot buy this great salvation, nor can I earn it. Knowing Jesus died on the cross and arose from the grave to pay my sin debt and to purchase my salvation, I do now trust Him as my Savior, and from this moment on I am completely depending on Him for my salvation.”
If you made the decision to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, please let me know. Please send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you some literature that will help you in your Christian life.
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