"MORNING DEVOTIONS"

Psalm 63.1-2

EXPOSITION:

1. Turn in your Bible to Psalm 63. When you have found that portion of Godís Word please stand as we read this eveningís text, 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.

2. How many life changing decisions can a person make a week? How many different spiritual issues can one person, who is after all a human being, be expected to effectively deal with at a time? I am of the opinion that the answer is "not very many." Or, better yet, "one important issue at a time."

3. One of the problems with decisionism, besides its erroneous notion of how people get saved, is that decisionism is usually accompanied by a wrong view of how change comes to a Christianís life after conversion occurs. This is to be expected since most so-called Christians are actually lost.

4. Without specifically addressing the theology of how a Christian grows in grace and the in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, how a Christian grows and matures and becomes more Christ like, I want this evening to lay before you an approach to life that will gradually and persistently, that will Scripturally and spiritually, change you.

5. I am not, this evening, asking you or even expecting that you will make any life changing decisions as the result of the truths we will handle. Quite the contrary. What we will deal with tonight will result in incremental adjustments, almost microscopic alterations, in your approach to the Christian life, godliness and spirituality.

6. Whereas the Sunday morning messages I am currently preaching from Godís Word are designed to strip away the false assurance that false professors of religion have, and that most genuinely converted people also have, so that false assurance, or presumption, will be abandoned in favor of genuine assurance, this eveningís message has a different design in view.

7. These morning messages are properly responded to by deeply reflecting on the confidence those of you who claim to be Christians have. But tonightís message, and the sermons I anticipate preaching over the next couple of Sunday evenings, require little introspection to respond to them, and only a slight alteration of behavior.

8. My friends, I want you to spend some time with God every morning. I know your evening Bible reading time may be important to you, and your time in the Bible with your kids or with your mom or dad is valuable. But what I would like to persuade you to do is something whose importance is exceeded only by your regular and faithful attendance at Church.

9. In First Timothy 4.7 the apostle Paul reminded Timothy to "exercise thyself rather unto godliness." Of course, the word "exercise" translates the Greek word from which our word gymnastics is derived, and refers to training and hard word. But the word that lays back of tonightís message is "godliness," which is the Greek word "eusebeia."

10. Though translated "godliness" in this verse, this verse does not refer to God-like-ness, but to a different aspect of godly behavior and attitude, the deep reverence and respectful attitude a person is supposed to have for God.

11. And this reverence and deep respect for God comes by the force of habit, not usually by some supposedly life-changing mystical experience that occurs while you are lying on your fatherís grave one night.

12. Do you want to begin, a little step at a time, to give to God the deep reverence and respect that He deserves? Then letís learn from the sweet psalmist of Israel in Psalm 63.1-2. Please turn back to our text for this evening.

13. "A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah." I am of the decided opinion that even these comments and titles found with many psalms are, themselves, inspired, for they have always been with the Psalms, as nearly as we can tell from the time they were penned.

14. Now, when was this particular psalm penned by David, for there were two times in his life that we know of him being in the Judean wilderness. First, when he was running from King Saul, who was tracking him down to kill him, and, second, when he fled from his son, Absalom, who tried to overthrow him. A glance at verse 11 suggests that this psalm was penned after he had become king, presumably when he was running for his life from Absalom.

15. Letís think about this for a moment. David is an old man. He is running for his life. If his sonís soldiers catch him they will certainly kill him on the spot and without any hesitation. So, we are confronted with a Psalm the deals with the life of a man caught up in the most chaotic and tumultuous experiences he has ever known.

16. Betrayal. Disloyalty. Rebellion. Danger. Intrigue. Responsibility. Turmoil. Confusion. Stress. Fatigue. Anxiety. Duty. And some of you think you have it tough. Are you getting the picture of a man backed into a corner? And the stakes are very high, indeed.

17. Now, with his hectic schedule, stress anxiety, fear for his own life and the lives of those who are loyal to him, lack of sleep, and primitive living environment, what does David do?

18. Letís let David tell us in his own words: "early will I seek thee." Fatigue will not prevent David from seeking God early. Insufficient sleep will not prevent David from seeking God early. Confusion and chaos and pressing crisis situations that howl for his attention will not prevent David from seeking God early. An army of killers seeking his life will not prevent David from seeking God early.

19. Imagine Harrison Ford as Dr. David Kimball, the fugitive, being pursued by a federal marshal, Tommy Lee Jones. Yet every morning, before he does anything else, Dr. David Kimball seeks God. His life and the lives of others is on the line, yet he takes the time to seek God early.

20. Thatís the picture I want in your mind as we stand to sing before this eveningís sermon.

INTRODUCTION:

1. We will visit this psalm several more times, the Lord willing, and we will spend time trying to discern and to understand Davidís reasons for seeking God early.

2. But this evening I want to spend a few minutes suggesting some of the reasons why you should do what David did, why you should do whatever it takes to make it a habit of life, why you should spend some time every morning, first thing, seeking God.

1A. First, SEEK GOD FIRST BECAUSE GOD IS IMPORTANT

1B. Is anyone more important than God? Is any thing more important than God? Now, I know that you may be a late person and not an early person. I think it unlikely that there is anyone in this church who is less a morning person and more a late person than I am.

2B. My brain just doesnít work as well in the morning as it does in the evening, no matter when I go to bed or wake up. And perhaps you are the same way, and for that reason you like to put off your serious Bible reading and prayer time until the evening. I understand that and thatís okay.

3B. But when your house is on fire you donít wash the dishes. Why not? Getting the fire put out is more important, a more pressing need, a more urgent task. So, you call the fire department and turn on the garden hose, and concern yourself with washing the dishes later.

4B. King David had many pressing duties and details. He was on the run. He had many people to take care of. He had critical decisions to make. And he was an old man doing these taxing things. Yet, because God is most important God must be sought early.

5B. And you, too. For no other reason than because God is most important, and because you must live the truth and not just know the truth, seek God early.

6B. And though others will benefit from the importance you attach to honoring God in this way, which I will speak to at another time, donít seek God early for that reason. Seek God early because He is too important not to fix your first thoughts of each day upon.

2A. Second, SEEK GOD FIRST BECAUSE GRACE IS NEEDED

1B. What is grace, my friend? Grace is Godís enablement. Grace is Godís help through the day. Grace is God working in your life to produce the sweetness that is characteristic of the fruit of the Spirit. Grace is that which is supplied by God which not only provides salvation to the sinner but sanctification to the saint, as well.

2B. Let me remind you of something Iíve taught you many times before. In Romans 5.6 we read: "For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly." The word "without strength" translates a Greek word meaning impotent, helpless, which is also found in Romans 6.19: "I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh."

3B. So, what makes the difference between impotence before conversion, which is Romans 5.6, and impotence after conversion, which is Romans 6.19, so the Christian life can be lived, so God can be served? Grace, my friend. Godís grace. Godís supply. Godís provision to those who are in Christ.

4B. First Corinthians 1.4-8 reveals much about Godís grace:

4 I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;

5 That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;

6 Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:

7 So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

8 Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

5B. Because of the press of time, let me summarize this passage:

1C. God is to be thanked for His grace, for it is by Godís grace that you have come to the state of blessedness in your life wherein you now stand, verse 4.

2C. What you are you are by the grace of God, to borrow Paulís phraseology from another text, verse 5.

3C. Christian, Godís grace was available to you in the past, for verse 6 to be true.

4C. And Godís grace will get you all the way to glory, verses 7 and 8.

6B. So, Godís grace is profoundly important in the life of every believer. And Godís grace works in every Christianís life in ways we will not understand until we get to heaven. But for some needs, Christian, you have to appropriate a measure of Godís grace each and every day. And it is when you seek God early that you will find your best opportunity to see that need met.

7B. And what subtle arrogance is displayed by that person who is so lazy, who is so indifferent, who is so casual about the Christian life and its importance, that he feels no need to seek Godís grace?

3A. Third, SEEK GOD FIRST BECAUSE YOUR MIND NEEDS RENEWING

1B. I call your attention to Romans 12.1-2:

1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

2B. When is a Christian to present his body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is his reasonable service? At the end of the day? In the afternoon, after the important meetings are done with? At night, after the kids are gone to bed? Or at the very beginning of the day, before the important tasks of the day are begun?

3B. My friend, you do not deal with the matter of conforming to the world after youíve wallowed in it all day at work. Neither do you work on proving what the good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God for your life is after youíve lived the day.

4B. The Christian life is first lived in the human mind, so the mind needs to be attended to. Is that to be done with prayer to god and spending time in his word after the day is done? Or so you are prepared to take on the day ahead of you? The answer is obvious, is it not?

4A. Finally, SEEK GOD FIRST BECAUSE IMPORTANT DECISIONS NEED TO BE MADE IN ADVANCE

1B. Are you going to commit adultery with a woman at work? Will you drink a beer at lunch time? Will you laugh at dirty jokes? Will you steal if you get the chance? Decisions not to do these things are decisions that are rightly made early in the morning when you are meeting with your God. As well, decisions to do right, to witness, to pray over meals, to read the Bible to the kids when you get home, are also rightly made in the morning.

2B. "A recent survey of 200 pastors who committed adultery or other immoral acts found they had something other than immorality in common, in that none of them had a regular quiet time in fellowship with God." [1]

3B. Ladies, I can almost guarantee that anyoneís husband will be committing adultery, will be looking at online pornography, will be watching r-rated videos, will be taking drugs or drinking booze, or who knows what, if he has no personal , private, devotional time with God.

4B. And what you will be up to without a personal, private, devotional life of your own is anyoneís guess. women are statistically less prone to adultery, but still quite capable of it. What else might you do? Gossip? Backbite? Gripe and complain and otherwise destroy your own home? Who knows?

5B. Rather than take such risks, why not decide to serve God, why not decide to do right, why not decide to not laugh at dirty jokes, why not decide to not look at that one woman who shows off her various body parts at work like a New Orleans street walker?

6B. And in addition to making decisions about the pitfalls and temptations that you know you are likely to face every day, why not decide to not make some decisions? Why not decide to not make some decisions until you have met with God the next day, until you have sought Godís wisdom and grace, until you have prayed about it and looked into Godís word, or until you have sought the counsel of the wise?

CONCLUSION:

1. Is there a good reason not to seek God early, to begin with God before you do anything else? No good reason that I can think of.

2. First, God is important. Second, you need grace for each day. Third, your mind needs renewing. And finally, you need a time each day to decide to do right and to decide to not do wrong.

3. Is there a better time and occasion for each of these reasons than a time each morning in communion with God in prayer and in His Word?

4. Set your alarm ten minutes earlier than normal for tomorrow morning. Pick out a passage from Godís Word, tonight before you go to bed, to read tomorrow morning, and set up yourself a place somewhere to do it.

5. Then, tomorrow morning, read Godís Word for five minutes. Five minutes! Then spend five minutes, five minutes, bowing before God in reverence and prayer to pay homage to Him, to praise Him, to tell Him you love Him.

6. Make that the habit of your morning each and every day, for the rest of your life.

[1] David W. Cloud, Are You Meeting With God And Feeding On His Word?, e-mail sent to FBIS Mailing List on April 17,2002 @ 1:42 AM.

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