A healthy, vibrant, growing and happy Christian life requires a regular routine of communion with God through prayer, study His Word, and in Christian service to mankind.
Like eating, sleeping, and exercising, it demands daily attention. And like our bodies, our spiritual life quickly withers and dies without spiritual food.
The story of Enoch is a great example of a man who spent much time in prayer and communion with God. In fact He kept his mind in tune with God in every respect of his daily living—in thought, in word and in deed. To him prayer was as the breath of the soul; he lived in the very atmosphere of heaven. Because he lived so close to God, he was translated to heaven without seeing death.
How can we achieve in our individual life the same holiness that characterized his, a state that will enable God to place us among the 144,000, to seal us, and to take us home with him without seeing death?
Friends, only Time Alone With God will give us the experience of Enoch.
The disciples had worked hard fulfilling Christ’s commitment. But now after their return from their missionary journey. He invited them to retire to a quiet place with Him. They needed to enjoy not only a little rest but also a period of close communion with the Saviour. “And he said unto them, Come ye yourselves apart into a desert place, and rest a while” (Mark 6:31). In the close and private setting with the future apostles, Jesus could communicate freely with them, correct their mistakes, encourage them, strengthen them for the great task they were soon to do.
As did the disciples, we too require the refreshing company of the source of all power, comfort, and wisdom. Every child of God vitally needs precious moments of private communion with Him. In our hurries and worries of life, even in the work of God, every Christian must have time dedicated to his private devotions.
The Master’s loving reproach to the busy and concerned Martha also illustrates this point. “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41,42) Every one of us needs “that good part, which shall not be taken away”—to sit quietly at the feet of Jesus, like Mary, and commune with Him.
But the time factor is extremely important.
As Enoch spent hours alone with God, we need to devote enough time with Him. We live in an age of hurry. Many voices require our attention. And we try to do everything briefly. Our meetings, our presentations, our articles, our interviews, are short.
But one thing still takes time, even in our day. To develop a love relationship we must invest time. The young man who falls in love with a girl wants to spend as much time as possible with her. As he courts her, he does not count time by the watch. Neither does she. And the more time they take to be together, to communicate with each other, the more they know each other, the more they appreciate each other, the more intense their love becomes.
Friends, our private hour of devotion alone with God is an absolutely vital need. Every Christian must meditate alone and talk with his Father alone.
It was during his hour of seclusion with God when Jacob won his victory, when his character received the needed divine touch and he consequently received his new name. Paul really changed the whole aim and direction of his life during the three days he spent by himself with God after his encounter with Jesus on the Damascus road. Without sight, he had enough time to mediate on the scriptures that referred to the first advent of Christ. And there he yielded completely to the Spirit’s voice.
During his hour of solitude with God Elijah heard the “still small voice” of the Holy Spirit speaking to his heart and bringing him courage and hope.
The Spirit can communicate with us much better when everything is quiet.
If we are not constant and regular in our devotional life, we are not safe.
May God give us the willingness to cut out the superfluous and secondary things of life in order to dedicate more time to daily communion with God. Only then will we have the strength to win life’s battles and, fully prepared, enter with the Saviour in the mansions above.
II. Filling Your Mind with God’s Truth
In order for the Christian to have a vital experience he must really know Christ—know Him as his personal Saviour, as the Master Teacher, as his Greatest Friend, as the Lord of his life, and as the sole source of spiritual power. In that personal knowledge of Christ resides the very secret of eternal life: “This is life eternal,” Christ said, “that they might know thee they only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3).
A practical and experiential knowledge of Christ is so fundamental that Paul wrote, “I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.” A few lines later he expressed his longing for that knowledge: “That I may know Him” (Philippians 3:8,10). He had come to know Jesus so well that he really fell in love with Him, conveying his experience in the immortal words, “For me to live is Christ” (Philippians 1:21). Is Christ the center of our lives? Can we say conscientiously, “For me to live is Christ”? Or is it something or somebody else?
But the main question is, How do we achieve this complete and wonderful knowledge of Christ that comes with its saving power?
First, by reading and meditating His Word. We “see” Jesus and come to know Him in His Word: “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). So powerful is the Word of God that the psalmist had discovered in it the secret of a victorious life, and he prayed, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee” (Psalm 119:11). And Jesus referred to the same principle when He admonished His disciples, “Abide in me:…for without me ye can do nothing.” Immediately He indicated the way of abiding in Him: “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you…” (John 15:7).
The Word has power because it is identified with Christ Himself. Jesus is in His Word. Christ is the Word made flesh. As we eat daily to keep our strength, we need to feed daily on the Word of God, our Heavenly Bread.
Have we reached this stage in our spiritual development?
The Bible is God’s voice speaking to us. To neglect it would be disastrous. We will soon loose sight of God and our spiritual life would wither and die. In this times of peace let us not neglect the Word of God.
There are no shortcuts to salvation. Shortcuts are dangerous. You walk down the mountain on the hike, and you see signs along the path: “don’t cut trail.” Why? That’s dangerous. “Oh, but it takes me longer to stay on the path.” That’s all right. Take the longer way. Shortcuts are dangerous and often longer in the end. God’s way is the only way.
III. Using Your Mind in God’s Service
Like the parable of the talents, what we receive from God must be used in service to benefit others. Talents used will be talents multiplied. Any unused talents will be taken away or we will be as the Dead Sea in which nothing can survive. So it is that the law of service is the law of life.
There is nothing in God’s creation that lives unto itself. Everything that God has created ministers to some other life. Every tree, shrub and leaf gives off oxygen so that man and animal could live. The flowers give out fragrance and beauty in blessing to the world. The sun sheds its light to gladden a thousand worlds. The ocean receives the streams from every land, but it takes to give. The mists ascending from the oceans fall in showers to water the earth.
The angels of glory find their joy in giving—giving love and tireless watchcare to souls that are fallen and unholy. Heavenly beings woo the hearts of men. They bring to this dark world light from the courts above. By their gentle and patient ministry they move upon the human spirit, to bring the lost into fellowship with Christ.
The greatest example of service to mankind is none other than our Lord Himself. He came from the courts of heaven to live, to serve and to die for mankind. All things that Christ received from the Father, he gave to us. In the heavenly courts, in His ministry for all created beings, the Father’s life flows out to all through His beloved Son Jesus Christ.
In our service to mankind we are actually representing the character of the great Giver, the law of life. The service we rendered in sincerity of heart to others has great rewards. Jesus promised, “Thy Father which seeth in secret Himself shall reward thee openly.”
The faces of men and women who walk and work with God express the peace of heaven. They are surrounded with the atmosphere of heaven. For these souls the kingdom of God has begun. They have Christ’s joy, the joy of being a blessing to humanity. They have the honor of being accepted for the Master’s use; they are trusted to do His work in His name.
501 Illustrations Page 99 No. 137. “More Than Life”
Years ago, far back in the interior of China, missionary John Gaskill was taking his seriously wife, Mary, on a long journey down the river to a hospital where she could receive medical attention. As they journeyed along in their boat, the two white-haired workers for God reminisced over their long period of service in the mission fields. Both agreed that it had been most rewarding, and neither would have changed the past even if it had been within their power.
After several days’ journey Mary grew weaker, “John, can’t we stop here under a large tree for a while?” she asked. “I’m so tired!”
“Her wish was granted, and when he had made her as comfortable as possible, she looked up into his face and said, “John, I cannot go any further. I am going to die here. But I want to tell you again how very glad I am that we came to China.’ And she went on to talk of the transformation which God, through their ministry, had wrought in hearts and homes, and in whole villagers where they had labored.
“John’s heart was too full for words, and his eyes, brimming with tears, turned to the river. Not a Chinese was in sight. The boat crew and servants had sensed that death was near and had disappeared. He was alone with Mary.
“As John bent over her, while she lay in his arms, she kissed him good-bye, drew one last whisper of a breath, and was gone…. Gently he laid her on the ground, went down to the boat, took out an oar, and walked back to Mary.
“With the oar he dug her grave. He lined it with tree boughs, then returned to the boat again, took one of his wife’s white skirts from their baggage, and somehow made it do for a shroud. Tenderly he lifted her in his arms and put her body down into the grave; then standing all alone, he repeated the twenty-third Psalm brokenly but to the last, ‘and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.’ Afterward he prayed.
“Telling a friend about the experience later, he said, ‘ It nearly killed me to push the dirt down on her with the boat oar, but I knew that it had to be done, and the good Lord gave me strength and courage. I left her there to sleep until Jesus comes.’”
After the lonely missionary had completed his heartbreaking task, he boarded his little craft and once more started down the river.
But he called a halt when he realized their direction and said, ‘No, men; up the river! Home to the mission station and to work for souls!’ Because, you see, Mary’s last word to him had been: ‘John, I wish you would go back to our work and stay in China and witness for God to the end of your life, or till Jesus comes.”
501 Illustration Page 251 No. 394 “No Other Plan”
According to the story, as Jesus was returning to heaven, the angels asked Him how His gospel work would be carried on now that He was leaving the earth.
Jesus told them of the work that John, Peter, Mary, and others had done. “They are to continue my work,” He explained.
“And if they fail in the work You have left for them to do, what other plan do you have?” the angels asked anxiously.
“If they fail,” Jesus said sadly, “I have no other plan.”
We must not fail in the work He was given us do!
To grow in our Christian experience, we to commune with God through prayer. We also need to hear Him speaking to us through His Word. Every moment of every day we need to depend on the Holy Spirit.
No matter how high our position, how many years we have been with the Lord, or what our title or status, we need daily private prayer and study. We must refill our heart with the oil of the Spirit, recharge our souls with the Heavenly Power, and receive God’s strength for each new day. We cannot have victorious living unless we have daily prayer, study of God’s Word, and private devotion.
Our old nature lurks in the shadows, ready to jump out at any moment of carelessness. It constantly strives to revive. Daily, hourly, we need to reaffirm our surrender to Christ and our dependence on Him.
The secret of Christ’s greatness and His victory was prayer. Had He not prayed as He did, He wouldn’t have lived as He did. “Prayer in secret, prayer while the hands are engaged in labor, prayer while walking by the way, prayer in the night season, the heart’s desires ever ascending to God—this is our only safety.
If we want to be saved at last, “We must look to Christ; we must resist as He resisted; we must pray as He prayed; we must agonize as He agonized, if we would conquer as He conquered.”
May God help us to make this vital commitment to Him today. Amen.