Manspeak


Time With God by Travis Evans
October 23, 2006, 9:06 am
Filed under: Devotions

Ahhhh, snuggly blanket, your Bible, early morning dew, a butterfly on the window sill, and a steamy peppermint-soy-half-caf-extra-skinny-mocha-with-organic-whipped-cream, and that ‘quiet time’ feeling…

Is that what you think a devotion is? Do devotions look different for men than they do for women?

If you are a man and you do identify with that description, please never tell me who you are or I’ll be forced to send Maples to your house or dorm room. He’ll be equipped with a wiffle ball bat, a roll of duct tape, and a hankerin’ to break you down. Please don’t make me do that. Anyway, since I’ll be posting on Manly Devotions, I thought this would be a great time to lay some groundwork for a healthy, biblically masculine, devotional life. What is the foundation of a quiet time, and do devotions look different for men than they do for women? Is grace available every morning?

1. Rooted in grace, a quiet time is…
“Time with God.” I love that description. It’s simple, intentional, and releasing at the same time. That’s the phrase Jerry Bridges uses for his “quiet time” or “devotion.” If you’re not familiar with Jerry Bridges, think about him like this: If there were an ultimate fighting championship where all the giants of the faith came together to slug it out, Jerry Bridges would be the number one contender in the ‘Grace’ category. This man knows how to receive the grace of God! See, your time with God in the morning is about receiving grace, not earning grace. It’s time spent receiving from God. It’s fellowship with Jesus Christ. You come needy to a God who is not needy. He is completely satisfied and He loves to give lavishly, richly, and overflowingly! The focus of this time should have at its center this same God who at great cost to Himself sent His only Son to bear the wrath you so richly deserve. He gave His Son for you, won’t He provide you with grace today (Rom. 8:32)?

Make no mistake. During our time with God, we read His Word, we pray, and we meditate on Scripture, but Jesus sacrifice on the cross is complete and sufficient. God doesn’t need you to add anything to it for Him to bless you. No Bible-reading, praying, or thinking over God’s Word “makes” God bless you. As John Piper says, “…you can’t get His arm behind His back to get Him to bless you.” Christ already did the work so that you could get riches of grace each and every morning! Why is this foundation of grace so important? It’s important because we can be tempted to try to add to Christ’s finished work by our Bible reading, prayers, journaling, etc. In effect, we think we can coerce God into blessing us by what we do, but the Bible says that Christ’s work is finished (John 19:30). Hebrews 12:2 says that Christ is “seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” What do we do when we’ve finished our work? We take a seat. He’s done, He was faithful to the end, He paid our penalty in full, and it’s over! There’s nothing for you to contribute this morning!

2. Christian men and women meet with God using the same means of grace…
Christian men and women both have the privilege of reading God’s Word, praying, crying out to God for grace, enjoying God’s grace, and singing praise to Him. However, I do think men should be leading and setting the pace for spending time with God and having passion for Jesus Christ. Period. Men, ask yourself, “Are the women I know more passionate about the Savior than I am?” “Do the girls initiate more conversations about God than I do?”Ask for input from godly men you know as well.

3. Christian, grace awaits you this morning!
In light of the wrath we deserve every single morning, isn’t it amazing that God wants to meet with us? Think about that. You and I wake up every single morning as sinners, and God is holy. Really holy. He’s three times holy the book of Isaiah tells us, and yet this holy God of the universe loves to be with those who trust in His Son! No wrath awaits you, Christian! You and I have an open invitation every single day to be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ. There is no reluctance in God’s heart to meet with us because the penalty we owe for violating God’s holy law has been paid! We’re in Jesus Christ; what great news (Ephesians 1-2)!

Yes, you can draw near to God today!

posted by Jonathan Oldacre, Contributor
FYI- Over the next few weeks we’ll be unpacking different aspects of our “Time With God.” Thanks for reading!

Note– If even the thought of getting up before 10:00am makes you sleepy, allow me to introduce my friends at Starbucks. They keep gallons and gallons of this hot, caffeinated substance called coffee on hand just for you! But please keep it within the realm of the masculine. No soy, no organic, nothing fruity…just coffee, ok!

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18 Comments so far
Leave a comment

The only part of your opening that I agree with is having my Bible!! There will be no need for wiffle bats and the venerable duct tape for me. I am not even close to being a morning person! I do most of my reading before bed. It sets the tone for a good nights sleep and that in turn makes for a better start to my day. I have a 45 minute drive into work, so I also try to use some of that for a “quiet time”. Nothin fancy about my coffee. I make camp/cowboy coffee at home. Dark and strong.

I have bookmarked your site, and will be checking in regularly. I don’t know how long you’ve had this,…but thanks.

Oh,…if you don’t know what camp/cowboy coffee is, then maybe you should find someone to help you out here. 🙂

Comment by Fritz

That’s a great point, Fritz. Guys if you don’t spend time with God in the morning, don’t think “Man, I missed my time with God this morning, so that’s it! Guess I’ll try again tomorrow!” Take some time at lunch or in the evening or before you go to bed to get into His Word. The morning is not the only time you can meet with God. He is always available and He’s not limited by time of day!

Comment by Jonathan Oldacre

Jonathan,
I love how devotions were introduced today. Who are we to think we can slay our selfish, sinful, rebellious, and worldly passions in our own strength!?!? “Time with God” is a WAR, and a worthy FIGHT! In the mourning we seek him to “set our frame” happy and satisfied in Him. For this battle will carry on through the day, and will most certainly bring us to fight many foes within our own hearts. Because the enemy is contending for supremacy with the MOST HIGH! Yet, we in our own will are powerless to dominate this enemy within. “Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” -Jeremiah 9:23-24. Knowing that HIS mighty arm is in the midst of my battles gives me the only courage, and strength I need to KILL what I have loved for so long. “for our sake he made him to be sin, who knew no sin so that we might be The Righteousness of GOD.” His righteousness is my only hope. My “fight” will not get his arm behind his back to bless me as Piper said. So we live in the paradox of fighting our sin, and resting in his strength. It reminds me of a Jerry Bridges illustration in The Disciplines of Grace. Our “fight” is only one wing on a plane, and his strength is the other wing. Though, the whole plane belongs to him, and he alone can give it flight!
-docmoles

Comment by doc

Todd, I think you should probably not drink any coffee at all in the morning. I can’t tell if I was reading a comment or a blurb on the back of a barbarian novel in the free book bin at McKay’s.

Comment by Jonathan Oldacre

Who is Fritz?
Todd “doc” Moles is the physical manifestation of the entire Starbucks chain. All caffeine that has been, is currently, or will ever be under the ownership of and dispensed by Starbucks Coffee will never add up to the passion that pumps through his veins. I like to think of Starbucks as a sign and symbol, if you will, that points to the real thing: Todd “doc” Moles. Holla.

Comment by kshipp83

JO: Great post! I love it!

Comment by joshcan

Guys this was great and very encouraging. I felt like it could be applied to women as well, even if it is a guy blog. Hope you don’t mind females stopping by from time to time. It’s great to read about what are brothers think/are being taught. Thanks for being leaders to make leaders!

Comment by A Female

James 4:8 – Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.

A quiet time is simply a way to reguarly draw near to God. This promise in James states that if you draw near to God, then he will draw near to you. A more understandable way of stating this is that if you draw near to God, he will bless you with communion with him which is a joyous occasion for any Christian.

So, what happens if you start this spiritual discipline and miss some days? Will God send a stingray to smite you? No.

Rather, for those who are trying to cultivate this spiritual discipline, do not make the mistake that devotionals will earn brownie points in the eyes of God.

Galatians 2:21 – I do not nullify the grace of God, for if justification were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.

We are not saved from God’s wrath by our works, devotions included, but from the atoning death of Jesus Christ on the cross. Thusly, if we don’t have a quiet time for a day, don’t feel condemned and don’t feel like you need to immediately sit down and have one, but, draw near to God and he will bless you. There are many ways to draw near to God, a devotional is simply one way to do so.

If you are struggling with confusion in not knowing if the “quality” of your quiet times are going to be “good enough for God to take interest in.” Take comfort in this promise:

Romans 8:26 – Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.

God empowers us to live the Christian life and pours out his grace upon our lives so that we can have communion with him. No matter how righteous the most “mature” Christians may appear to be, they never outgrow their necessary dependence upon Christ and they never outgrow their reliance upon God’s sustaining grace to live the God glorifying life that they are called to live. Even the most “mature” Christian who has been having devotionals for years do not know what to pray for as they ought, but the spirit intercedes for them in their weakness to commune with God, the holy creator of the universe. Thusly, the same applies to those that feel inadequate for the “task” of starting/restarting devotionals as the spirit will aid you in your quiet times and if you are having them with the purpose of drawing near to God, he will bless you with the Holy Spirit who will intecede for you on the majestic throne of our most Holy God and you will be able to have a most amazing communion with him.

Here is a quick summary of this post:

1) There is great value in having a consistant devotional.

2) Devotionals do not earn merit with God.

3) You do not need to have a perfect plan in your devotionals. God will help you. Remember – “Anything worth doing is worth doing badly.” – G. K. Chesterton

Soli Deo Gloria.

Comment by Jonathan Kelfer

I appologize if what I said was not really appropriate and disturbed any future plans that you had on your section of the blog Jon. If necessary, please feel free to delete/edit my rediculously long post post.

Soli Deo Gloria.

Comment by Jonathan Kelfer

shoot kelfkelf! Get your own blog!

Comment by joshcan

Kelfer, seriously, that was an excellent comment! Well said, gracious, and encouraging. You captured the God-dependent nature of our times with God quite nicely. Now quit trying to put me out of a job here on Manspeak and go do your homework!

One thought. You said “There are many ways to draw near to God, a devotional is simply one way to do so.” That could be misunderstood since we often equate a devotion with reading the Bible and prayer (primary means of grace),…does that mean that I should skip reading the Bible and praying to look at the creation and be edified by God’s creative power? I think you probably meant that we shouldn’t be discouraged if we miss a devotion because we could meet with God at any point during the day. It would be more accurate to say that we should enjoy the primary means of grace (Scripture intake, prayer) in a primary way. It would not be a helathy practice to neglect these in favor of say, taking a walk and enjoying a beautiful sunset. Enjoying a sunset is a means of grace in that in this display we see the creation proclaiming God’s handiwork. Paraphrasing Edwards (I think!), we then follow the beam up to its origin in God’s creative power, and we rejoice in His glory. But that is not meant to take precedence over the revealed Word of God. Know what I mean dog? Thoughts?

Comment by Jonathan Oldacre

Sorry here is another rediculously long post:

I definately agree with what you stated with regards to your analysis of my statement.

“There are many ways to draw near to God, a devotional is simply one way to do so.”

The purpose of this statement was to reassure the reader that even though one may miss devotionals, one can still have communion with God throughout the day through a number of additional means (this statement is not meant to downplay the significance/importance of a consistant devotional life).

If I am not mistaken, the purpose of a devotional is to saturate a Christian with a spiritual breakfast in the Word. As Christians, our spirits hunger for God’s Word and as breakfast sustains us and gives our bodies energy to endure the hardships of the day, so does a devotional sustain our spirits throughout the day to be most prepared for the spiritual hardships of the day. But, keeping everything in perspective, there are other meals of the day and even if we do not feed our bodies during breakfast, there are other times/ways to do so to sustain us. One can have a milkshake or poptarts on the road as a subistute of lesser sustainance, or they can wait until lunch time to have a hardier lunch. Devotionals are the breakfast of the spirit which God uses sustains us throughout the day to guard our hearts against the spiritual hardship of the war with our sinful nature. But, if we miss this spiritual breakfast, we can still get into the Word of God via a snack or a hardier lunch and by God’s grace it will recharge our weary hearts. Some ways include intentionally setting time aside with God in prayer or simply waiting until “lunch” and reading the inerrant and infalliable Word of God outside of a devotional.

But, the purpose of that statement should not be to encourage an attitude of licentiousness and laziness in spiritual disciplines. There is great value in devotionals in the mornings.

As stated before, the Christian life is impossible with human resources, this is why we need Christ. We need Christ’s atoning sacrifice to be given salvation and we need Christ’s atoning sacrifice to live the life that God calls us to live. But, God does not leave us in the dark to how he wants us to pursue him as we are dependently responsible to live this Christ glorifying life. This means that we are both empowered fully by God to live this life both in the will and the work, but we are also called to pursue God in growing to be more like his Son. God tells us how he equips us to fight the good fight daily and we are called to pursue this “equipment” to set our gaze on things of the spirit and the upward calling of God and when we pursue this equipment, he will empower us with it.

Ephesians 6:10-18

10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might. 11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm. 14 Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. 16 In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; 17 and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, 18 praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication.

When we seek to draw near to God in the morning via our devotionals, we are entering the daily battle against the flesh and who wants to fight naked?! As Christians, we are called to put on the armour of God. This includes wielding the Sword of the Spirit in the battle against our sinful nature. The Sword of the Spirit is the only offensive weapon that God gives us to fight against the flesh as you can see when reviewing the above verses. We have a shield of faith, a belt of truth, shoes of the readiness given by the gospel of peace, a helmet of salvation, a breastplate of rightousness, and a sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God. If we are offensively wielding this sword, we must be actively reading the Word and a devotional is a great way to equip oneself with the Sword of the Spirit for the daily battle against the flesh. A devotional’s intention is to allow a Christian to pick up our weapon (the Sword of the Spirit) to fight the enemy instead of picking it up at the middle or even the end of our daily battles. Devotionals accomplish this task as it allows the practicing Christian to be mastered by the Word of God a throughout the day and by beginning in the morning and setting our minds upon higher things. If we do not pick up this Sword daily by reading the Word of God, how should we expect to be effective in serving the most Holy God and in doing all things to the glory of God? Devotionals are a great means of grace that God uses to prepare us to fight the good fight everyday.

Wielding the armor of God glorifies Him and his glory is a Christian’s greatest joy. Thusly, it glorifies God when we draw near to him and because it glorifies God we find that we are satisfied through it (as opposed to being satisfied by it). Communion with God is a joyous occasion and thusly devotionals are joyous times and are not burdens.

To add a heavenly perspective: when we are perfected in heaven, we will enjoy God communion with God for all time. Having the opportunity to commune with God himself on Earth is a small slice of heaven and how sweet it is!

Recap:

Christian, if you desire to enjoy the fruit of this discipline, do not be discouraged if you miss a devotional. Instead, realize that Christ’s blood covers you and you can still enjoy communion with God anytime and I encourage you to enjoy communion with him as often as possible as his glory is our joy.

Soli Deo Gloria

Comment by Jonathan Kelfer

OK, Kelfer…I love you. But this is ridiculous. Comments are meant to be comments, not treatises. So either publish a book or send JO a private email!

Comment by walterp

Nevar!!!one

Comment by Jonathan Kelfer

Jonny– the beam paraphrase is Lewis.

Being your helpmate,
Melanie.

Comment by Melanie

Behold the benefits of having a wife: “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.” (Prov.18:22)

Comment by Jonathan Oldacre

I was listening to Dr. Dobson one morning doing an interview with his son, Ryan. He said that there are times he doesn’t read his Bible, but he ALWAYS reads something edifying. There are times when I am reading a good book written on a christian subject and find myself reading later than I wanted. I may not read my Bible for a night or two, but I always come back to it. I agree that your days shouldn’t be totally consumed with ‘devotionals’ and your Bible. Spend time outside, or reading a good edifying book,…something that will strengthen your relationship with the Father.

Now,…who am I? That’s easy. I am me. Just a simple servant for the Lord Jesus. I enjoy most things outdoors. I don’t wash my coffee cup out at work either. It has a nice ‘patina’ to it, and I like it.

Fritz

Comment by Fritz

Sorry last comment (I am obviously very passionate about this subject).

Here is a great resource by Thomas Watson that I have been looking over that is very applicable to this subject:

http://www.fivesolas.com/watson/happy.htm

Comment by Jonathan Kelfer




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