Calvary Road Baptist Church

“THE GOAL OF MORNING DEVOTIONS”

Psalm 63.1-2

 

Please consider the 63rd Psalm, especially verses 1 and 2:

 

1     A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;

2     To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.

 

To my target audience, those of you who do not have a consistent prayer life, I seek no profound alteration in your thinking. After all, you know you should pray to God, and you may even feel bad about not praying as you should. Therefore, understand that I am after no 180-degree course change from you. I recognize that your prayerlessness is deeply ingrained in long-established habits. What I would like is to see you make a ten-minute adjustment in your daily routine. That is all I want you to consider, ten minutes. With those ten minutes, I think the result is likely to be eventual conversion if you are not saved and profound consecration and spiritual growth if you are hopefully converted but struggling with your prayer life. Though those are the results that I think God will produce over time, what I am asking you to give thought to is only ten minutes.

Why should you take ten minutes out of your busy day to spend in God’s Word and in prayer to God? Let me come at you from one direction by way of introduction, and then I will come at you another way in the body of this pamphlet. For now, let me suggest to you that ten minutes of your time each day spent in devotions is what life is all about. It is at the core of the reasons you exist and for which you were created. To not spend time in God’s Word and in prayer each day is not living, is not life, but is a complete and total waste of your entire day, is a tossing away of your entire life one piece at a time. We are going to consider several verses, beginning with Genesis 32.30:

 

“And Jacob called the name of the place Peniel: for I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved.”

 

Thus verse concludes Jacob’s wrestling match that resulted in his conversion. He rightly understood it to be a moment when he saw God face to face. Specifically, it was the preincarnate Jesus Christ, the Lord Jesus before He was born of the Virgin Mary, who Jacob wrestled with and saw in a saving way.

The phrase that stands out is Jacob’s statement, “I have seen God face to face.” He had thought before that time that seeing God face to face meant certain death. But in reality seeing God face to face in that way meant life. The Christian, who has looked to Jesus Christ with the eye of faith for salvation and cleansing, will yearn to see Him Who his soul loveth. And thus it is with devotions (a time of devotion), with time in God’s Word and with prayer. For you see, the most accurate portrait of the Christian’s Beloved anywhere to be found is on the pages of God’s Book. No wonder the child of God resorts to the Bible. And no wonder the Christ-rejecter does not resort to the Bible. It is on the pages of the blessed Book that we see the face of our Savior.

We next consider Proverbs 15.24. Where do you want to go? Heaven? Or Hell?

 

“The way of life is above to the wise, that he may depart from hell beneath.”

 

Would you like to depart from Hell beneath? You will never leave the clutches of the soul’s damnation once you go to Hell, but a man may depart from the path that leads to Hell. The wise man, on the other hand, recognizes the way of life. Would you be wise? Would you depart from the broad road that leads to destruction? Then my suggestion, and the suggestion of wise Solomon is to look above. The child of God already knows the way of life is above. The children of disobedience are in the way of death and have their eyes set on this world and all that herein is. But perhaps you would think of better things from time to time, lost friend. Perhaps you would not be afraid to contemplate eternity from time to time. It were better that you spend ten minutes each day looking above, though you spend the rest of the day looking down and about. Perhaps those ten minutes spent each day in Bible reading and prayer will kindle an interest that will not be satisfied until you come to Christ.

Some people think that they don’t have time to take out ten minutes to read God’s Word and pray. Such people are confused. They are deluded and deceived. My Lord Jesus said, “The life is more than meat.”[1] There are more important things than earning a living, than making money, than doing things, than going to school, than going for play and amusement, and getting stuff. I maintain that devotional time, time spent communing with God in His Word and laying before Him your requests in prayer, that’s what real life is. Time spent doing other things is time less well spent.

Do you want to really live? I mean, really want to live? Would you like to live life to its fullest? It’s a deceptive sham that life is lived to the fullest by running here and there, by spending lots of money, by making lots of money, by playing and frolicking and indulging yourself in every conceivable way. That’s a lie! If that’s life, why do people who live that way spend vast amounts of money on psychiatric therapy? If that’s life, why do those people more frequently commit suicide? If that’s life, why do those people more frequently divorce and resort to drugs and pills to make themselves feel better? If that’s life, then I don’t want any part of it. Life, real life, is in Jesus Christ. First John 5.11 reads,

 

“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”

 

But where is His Son? The Apostle Paul wrote, in Colossians 3.3, that “your life is hid with Christ in God.”

No wonder the child of God resorts to the Bible and prayer, our way of communing with God in heaven and with our Savior, Who sits at the Father’s right hand on high.[2] I want to learn more of the life I now live by the faith of the Son of God, Galatians 2.20. Don’t you? So, I take time each day to feed my faith, to discover new things, to remind myself of old things, to catch a fresh glimpse of God, of my Lord Jesus, to smell the fragrance of heaven, all set against the backdrop of a fresh reminder of myself, who I am by God’s grace, what I was before God’s grace, and who I am still apart from God’s grace. But just as beneficial for the unsaved man or woman is that touchstone of reality, whereby a man puts himself in touch with eternity, with truth, and acknowledges the God Who is there. How can a man for ten minutes a day honor God, read of God, pray for God to show Himself in a saving way, and remain unaffected and unmoved? I don’t think it’s possible. Ten minutes of devotions will do something to you, my friend.

What should the goal of morning devotions be? There are many subsidiary goals, but the single and most important goal for your devotional time each morning before you take on the day before you deal with any other subjects or allow any problems to attack your thoughts, is to meet with God. Climb the mountain each morning by reading a portion of God’s Word and praying to Him, and you will live the rest of your day on a higher plane, and at greater altitude, than you otherwise would. Values will be clarified. Discernment will be sharpened. Your gaze will be farther over the horizon. Because you have met with God.

Read our text once more:

 

1     A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah. O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;

2     To see thy power and thy glory, so as I have seen thee in the sanctuary.

 

If you will notice carefully David’s words, he declares his intentions: “early will I seek thee.” He dared to presume that early he would find God, that early he would meet with God, that early he would commune with God. And so should you presume, my brother or sister. Your responsibility as a child of God is to go to the meeting place, which is the Word of God when reading, and is the throne of grace when praying. Your obligation is to frequent those places where God has assigned to rendezvous with you. It is quite up to Him whether or not He will grace those places with His presence while you are there. Your assignment is to be there, and to wait upon Him, and to wait for Him.

What if He does not choose to meet you there? Your time is not wasted. It is still time well spent. For God has been honored. God has been worshiped. You have bowed down before Him. And He will hear you when you pray. Besides, how do you know God wasn’t there? Just because you didn’t feel like He was there? Just because you didn’t feel like it was a glorious time? Just because your mind was a little bit foggy in the morning and your eyes were just a little bit maladjusted to reading?

We need to do as David did in his time of great trouble, in his time of great distress, in his time of great inconvenience, when he was running for his life and when he was on the verge of physical exhaustion. Seek God early. Will there be times it doesn’t seem God was there with you? Yes. But God was there despite your lack of perception.

Let me now discuss for you this activity of seeking to meet with God in Bible reading and prayer, in personal and private devotions, before you take on the day. My desire is to dispel the myth that there is a perceived “connection” between the saint and the Sovereign. My desire is to blast the notion that meeting with God results in some kind of roll your eyes back, and throw your head back, and rotate your palms upward, type of experience. Such are not the experiences the Word of God directs God’s children to pursue.

Three points and we are finished:

 

First, TO MEET WITH GOD IS A MENTAL EXPERIENCE, NOT A MYSTICAL ONE

 

The Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary defines a mystic as “a person who claims to attain, or believes in the possibility of attaining, insight into mysteries transcending ordinary human knowledge, as by direct communication with the divine or immediate intuition in a state of spiritual ecstasy.”[3]

You and I both know people who think that meeting with God is a mystical experience. They think that when someone goes to God and is, to use their words, “in the Spirit,” he is blessed with a supernatural “connection” of some kind with God that he can detect, that he can feel, which gives him something of a physical buzz. They are convinced that he is somehow transported to a spiritual state that is so superior to that which is felt by those who don’t have his mystical experiences.

Excuse me, but that is utter nonsense and so much bunk. That mystical nonsense is responsible for more people who are left feeling they’ve been robbed of spiritual reality than just about anything else. God does not “connect” with people any other way than through their minds. Read Genesis 2.15-16, which records the first time God ever met with man after creating him:

 

15   And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.

16   And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat.

 

This first encounter between God and man establishes the pattern that has been followed between God and men since that occasion. The way God communicated to the man the first time is the way God communicates to man every time. That is, God deals with a man by means of words, communicating to him intelligent thoughts through the doorway to his soul, which is the human mind. Of course, God spoke to Adam audibly at that time since the Word of God had not yet been inscripturated. But now that we have God’s written Word we receive truth from God through exactly the same portal that Adam did, our minds. You do not receive truth directly to your heart. You do not receive truth to your feelings. Whereas Adam heard the words of God, we read the words of God. But the mind is still God’s gateway to the human soul.

When you engage in a devotional time with God, when you take the time to go to the meeting place with God, recognize that it is not some geographical location. Rather, it is that intersection that takes place between the mind of God and the mind of man when the Bible is being read and when truth is received from God. As well, it is that prayer, when you speak intelligent words from the mind of man to the mind of God, when you are expressing yourself back to God. To restate, then, the goal of having devotions is to meet with God. But meeting with God is a mental exercise and not a mystical one.

 

Next, TO MEET WITH GOD IS INTELLECTUAL, NOT EMOTIONAL

 

Please do not make the mistake of thinking that great emotions are not sometimes involved in the worship of the one true and living God. Just understand that meeting with God does not originate in the emotions, but originates in the human intellect. You have to think to worship God, to commune with God, to praise God rightly, and to meet with God. Why is this? Because meeting with God has as its basis facts, intelligent thoughts, concepts, truths, and ideas. Isaiah 1.18 illustrates this, where we see the starting point of all communication between God and an individual man. This is where it begins. If you are not willing to go here you and God will never communicate:

 

“Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

 

Before a sinner can even think of coming to Jesus Christ for forgiveness and cleansing he has to be where God demands that he be for a conversion encounter to take place. And where is that? It is the place of reason, the place of facts, the place of truths, the place of intelligently understood consequences.

There is no emotion here. There is only bare truth here. Not that emotions will not, can not, should not, quickly develop in response to the human mind appreciating and understanding the facts and their consequences. But please understand that emotions do not take the lead in any encounter with God, whether it is an encounter a lost man has or an encounter that a saved man has. Emotion does not take the lead, intellect takes the lead. Now consider Isaiah 6.1-5:

 

1     In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.

2     Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly.

3     And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory.

4     And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.

5     Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.

 

Can you imagine a more emotion-charged scene than this one? God has lifted the veil so that the prophet Isaiah sees Him in His glory. This may be the most emotion-charged encounter between God and a man ever recorded in the Bible. But even if you examine Job’s encounter with God,[4] or the Apostle Paul’s encounter on the Damascus Road with the risen and glorified Savior,[5] you would find the same pattern: Isaiah saw. Isaiah heard. Isaiah felt the vibrations. Then, when Isaiah’s mind interpreted the information that he had gathered and rapidly considered the implications of the facts, then he reacted emotionally, and not before:

 

“Woe is me! For I am undone.”

 

But the facts first had to find their way into his mind.

Devotions are conducted with a view toward gathering information from the Bible into your mind that you will then use to consider, worship, contemplate, and revere God. That is an intellectual exercise, though it is properly done with an appropriate attitude. If emotions are involved in your devotions, in your communion with God, the emotions follow the facts, they do not run ahead of the facts but are the result of properly apprehending and appreciating profound facts. And this is not to say you will not approach devotions some mornings with a heart full of emotion, with eyes that are teary, or with a heaviness of your soul. Or perhaps you will approach the throne of grace with such a buoyancy of spirit, such a sheer delight, that you feel almost giddy with pleasure as you bow down before God, your Sovereign.

But those emotions, still, follow your reception of facts, your perception of truth; even if it was the result of considering all the things you’ve learned about God and His goodness over the course of your life leading up to that time of personal devotion. To repeat, then, meeting with God is essentially an intellectual activity, a mental activity, and not primarily an emotional activity. Emotions may be present, but they need not be present for the communion to be real, for the worship to be meaningful, for the nurture of the soul to be actual. After all, it is the mind that is the gateway to the soul, not your emotions. So, it is critical that Tom Terrific have his thinking cap on during his devotions, not his emotions.[6]

May I offer another proof for your consideration that the intellect, not emotions is critical in devotions? Romans 12.2, where Paul refers to being “transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Just because it’s your mind that you use to approach God doesn’t mean it’s not spiritual, intensely spiritual. That’s how God deals with human beings; through our reason, through our intellects, through our minds.

 

Finally, TO MEET WITH GOD IS FAITH, NOT FEELING

 

Do not conclude that you’ve been robbed of genuine spiritual experience just because someone says, “Can’t you just feel God’s presence?” while you are thinking to yourself, “It’s hot and sweaty in here.” No one can “feel” God’s presence under ordinary circumstances. How many of you have heard phony television preachers say, “Can’t you just feel God’s presence here tonight, brethren?” Baloney! Absolute baloney! God is a spirit, which means He is not ordinarily perceived by means of the five human senses. This is one of the reasons He has given to us His Word. You don’t see Him, smell Him, taste Him, hear Him, or touch Him. God is a spirit!

Our final passage for consideration is in Hebrews 11.1-6:

 

1     Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.

2     For by it the elders obtained a good report.

3     Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

4     By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh.

5     By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God.

6     But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

 

From verse 1, we see that faith is unrelated to the physical senses:

 

“Things not seen.”

 

The writer of Hebrews could just as easily have written, “things not heard, or felt, or smelled, or tasted.” The point is that faith has to do with taking God’s Word about things, not perceiving with your own five senses.

How important is faith when dealing with God, when meeting with God, when you are having your devotions? In a word, faith is critical. Without faith, without a willingness to take God’s Word about things from the Bible instead of seeing for yourself, or feeling for yourself, or smelling for yourself, or hearing for yourself, or tasting for yourself, God will not be pleased. So, when you hear some fellow who says that “I just felt God tell me to . . . .” or “God spoke to me and told me to tell you that . . . .” then you know that perhaps someone told him, but there is no scriptural evidence that it was God Who told him. Why not? Because God is pleased to deal with His people by means of faith, which is to say not by means of our five senses.

To restate once again, to meet with God is to deal with Him in His Word and in prayer by faith, not feelings.

 

Be prepared to spend time with God in His Word and in prayer and not “feel” God’s presence. And when something like that happens, don’t you dare write off the whole experience as a waste of time and not an important spiritual encounter. You take it by faith that when you open God’s Word to read it and receive it that God then deals with your soul through your mind, even if you don’t get a tingle. And when you cry out to God for mercy, my lost friend, you have no choice but to believe that God will hear you in mercy. What alternative do you have? But the child of God can be sure that God both heard and will answer those prayers because, after all, God’s Word exhorts you to come to the throne of grace in prayer, does it not?[7]

So, the goal in morning devotions is to meet with God. But to meet with God does not mean you will have a sensory experience like meeting your new boss or encountering an old friend you haven’t seen in a long time. Such interactions provide stimulation through your sense of sight and smell and hearing and taste and touch. But when you meet with God, you are meeting on the basis of a relationship that is established and maintained by faith. Thus, the meeting is no less real than any other meeting. It’s just that it’s a meeting between you and One Who cannot be reduced to your eyesight, to your hearing, to your taste, to your smell, or to your touch. He’s too big for that, too great for that, and too glorious for that. Thus, God deals with you and me by means of our faith.

Therefore, take ten minutes every morning. Better ten minutes every day than shooting for an hour the first time and then never doing it again. Start with ten minutes. Though there may be a number of things accomplished during such a devotional time, the primary goal is spending time in God’s Word and prayer to meet with God.

You will not remain the same when you regularly and routinely set aside a time to meet with God. Meeting with God each day will change you for the better.

__________

[1] Luke 12.23

[2] Psalm 16.11; 110.1; Matthew 26.64; Mark 12.36; 14.62; 16.19; Luke 20.42; 22.69; John 3.13; 13.1; 14.2-4; Acts 2.33, 34-35; 7.56; Romans 8.34; Ephesians 1.20; 6.9; Colossians 3.1; Second Thessalonians 1.7; Hebrews 1.3, 13; 8.1; 9.24; 10.12-13; 12.2; 1 Peter 3.22; Revelation 19.11

[3]Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary, (New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1996), p. 1272.

[4] Job 38.1-40.5

[5] Acts 9.3-6

[6] Tom Terrific was a 1950s era television program cartoon character, a young boy who put on his thinking cap (a tin funnel) as a means of transforming himself into a lad of brilliance. Tom Terrific was an early animated series on American television (1957-1959), presented as part of the Captain Kangaroo children’s television show.

[7] Hebrews 4.16

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org