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Make Time to Experience God - First15 - March 9, 2018

Make Time to Experience God

Weekly Overview:

Our heavenly Father has made incredible promises to us, his children. And while our God is completely faithful to deliver on his promises, he does not force them on us. He’s promised his nearness, his affections, and an eternal life spent with him. But we have the power to choose our own way. He doesn’t force himself where there’s no space. God’s word won’t have power in our lives if we don’t read it. We won’t hear God effectively if we’re not listening. And we can’t experience his nearness if we constantly fill our lives with other things. So, this week we’re going to talk about different ways we can experience the promises of God so that they might come to full fruition in our lives. May you encounter God powerfully as you grow in fully experiencing the incredible promises of your heavenly Father.

Scripture:“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” Psalm 37:7

Devotional:    

Our world deems the busiest people to be the most successful. We look at the lives of those who work more than the average person and admire their fortitude and drive. We compare our own lives to those who seem to work more, have more, and do more with their time and wish we could have the resolve to be more like them. As a result of society’s epidemic of busyness, our spiritual lives are suffering. 

The Bible gives us a clear depiction of the life of a busy person and the life of a person who made time to sit and experience God. Luke 10:38-42 says,

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Jesus’ response in the last two sentences strikes me to the core. Jesus says, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” The good portion in Jesus’ eyes was to sit and listen to him, an idea that contradicts most of what we value in our culture. We value those who fill their time with service and action. But that’s not what Jesus valued. Jesus valued Mary, who spent her time sitting at his feet. Jesus valued Mary’s willingness to make time to be with him. And we don’t just find this teaching in this one instance either! Psalm 127:2 says, “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” Psalm 37:7 says,“Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!” Clearly there is a principle of rest and making space for God that spans across the entirety of Scripture.

So, how can we respond to God’s word today? What does this principle of making time to spend with God mean for us? First, we have to choose to value God’s word over the opinion of man. Martha was angry with Mary. Martha must have felt that Mary was lazy and selfish the way many of us would. But Scripture is clear that Martha was wrong. Will you value God’s opinion over man’s? Will you choose to rest in God’s presence when the world is knocking at your door, telling you to get busy?

Second, we have to re-evaluate what we call success.Busyness and monetary gain aren’t the definition of success in God’s eyes. Working tirelessly, even for his kingdom, isn’t the same as working with God. We have to make room in our lives to experience God and his promises. God can’t bring you peace and a deeper revelation of his love if you don’t make time to encounter him. Martha proved this concept. She was in the very presence of the living God and only experienced anxiety and frustration. You have to make time to sit at the feet of Jesus with no agenda. Simply being with God is foundational to living the Christian life. Isaiah 30:15 says, “For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, ‘In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.’ But you were unwilling.” You must be willing to rest. You have to make time for God’s presence. He’s waiting right now to restore you and fill you with peace. He has a perfect plan to satisfy the longings of your heart. Wait on God today. Wait for the leading of his Holy Spirit. Receive the love and affection God is longing to give, and let it be the fuel that spurs you toward good works today.

Guided Prayer:

1. Meditate on the story of Mary and Martha. Place yourself in Scripture. Let the truth of Jesus’ words shift your perspective on success.

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’” Luke 10:38-42

2. Now reflect on your own life. Are you too busy? What perspective, person, or fear drives you to busyness?

3. Ask God to guide you into a life of consistently making time to experience him. Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what needs to change in your life. What do you need to get rid of or say no to? Hand over whatever is holding you back from your heavenly Father in prayer. Cast all your burdens on his shoulders and find rest in his love.

Let encountering God be your fuel for action today. Move as he moves. Wait when he calls you to wait. Surrender your day to the Holy Spirit and follow his guidance. There are whole days God is calling you to simply rest in his presence. Decide to value God’s opinion over man’s today and spend time resting in the presence of your heavenly Father. There will be a time and place to work, seeing his kingdom come to earth, but he will faithfully lead you to those moments. Choose to wait on God today, rest in his presence, and experience a new strength for your day that can only be found in sitting at the feet of Jesus.       

Extended Reading: Isaiah 30

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