Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:6-9 (NASB)
Greetings to you all. I hope you’re enjoying this fantastic Fourth of July weekend. It’s time for me to get into this series and see about getting another message posted. I think we’re going to get some really good stuff from today’s message, and I pray that we all have ears to hear, eyes to see, and hearts that will be receptive and responsive to what the Lord has to say to us through today’s message. Amen!?!
Today’s Message – “Don’t Neglect Your Quiet Time”
One of the things that is really easy for me to do, and most pastors or preachers is that we take so much time to study and prepare for our messages that we forget to take time to study and meditate upon the scriptures for what God has to say to us for our lives.
One of the neat things about being a blogger is that not only do I get to write a message to you, but I’m also writing these messages to myself. In fact, many times I have re-read these messages I write so that not only am I able to get what God is speaking through them for myself. I have learned that there’s never a time where I know it all, and if I ever reach that point…then I’m full of pride and need to repent for believing in my own abilities.
The story of Joshua has brought encouragement and inspiration to countless leaders. His life and example is a vivid image of the challenging responsibilities of leadership. As leaders, you and I can identify with Joshua on many levels.
There are quite a few people in the Bible that you can draw encouragement and inspiration from, and like the author of this devotional I find Joshua’s story one of those that I like to read. It’s here where we read that we are to meditate upon the Word of God day and night. It’s also here that God speaks to us that He is with us and we’re to fear not. It’s also where we find another one of the famous scriptures that most people have on plaques or framed in their home: “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”
The book of Joshua was written as a record of the Hebrew people. But it was also recorded to inspire future leaders of God’s people to trust and obey his principles and laws. Take a few minutes to consider the mandates Joshua was given to guide him through one of the most momentous seasons of Jewish history.
As the pastor of basically a social network ministry I find Joshua’s story to be of significance to me in that it’s a reminder that while I am working to lead people who are following me via Twitter (@ChristMinistNWA), Facebook (www.Facebook.com/ChristlikeMinistriesNWA), or here on WordPress (www.christlikeministriesnwa.com) I am not only responsible for studying to bring good, solid Bible based messages to you, but I’m responsible for making sure that I am also feeding and studying and meditating on the Word of God for my own personal walk with God.
For those of you who may be in ministry reading this it’s just as important for us to feed upon the Word of God as it is for us to feed others the Word of God because it all goes back to the very first two messages in this series. We must abide in Christ, and the main way that we do that is by abiding in the Word of God. We can’t spiritually feed people if we’re starving spiritually ourselves. That’s why private study and worship is so vital to our walk with God as leaders of ministries or congregations. If we depart from the Word of God we depart from the power and presence of God. If we separate ourselves from the Word of God we have effectively separated ourselves from the life blood that flows from the Vine into our lives. The Word of God is vital to our survival as Christians and as leaders in ministry.
So let’s take a look at some of these mandates Joshua was given, and see how we can apply them to our lives…
A Word of Promise – “I promised … I would give [you] this land.”
Has God spoken something to you that He’s promised you…and you know it was God who spoke and promised it to you? Then let me and Joshua’s story encourage you in that if He did indeed speak to you and promise you something…then you can take it to the bank that whatever He promised you He is going to fulfill it.
The thing is, however, some times God gives us a promise, and there’s a waiting period between the promise and the fulfillment of that promise. Friends, God promised me that I would have a ministry in 2001, but it wasn’t until 2012 that I really started walking in that promise. God promised my wife many, many years ago that He would bring her a good, godly husband…it was 36 years and a 15-year-old son before that promise was fulfilled.
Here’s the thing, Christlike Ministries NWA Family, the failure of so many Christians isn’t when the promise is given, but trusting God to fulfill what He promised. There is a principle in the Bible that works no matter what you do, no matter if you’re a Christian or not…that principle is seed, TIME, and harvest.
Many Christians miss out on the fulfillment of the promise because they grow weary in the time period between the planting of the seed, and the harvesting of the promise. You are never ever going to plant an apple seed one day, and have an apple tree the next day. Some apple trees take years to grow before they produce quality apples.
So to is it with the promises God gives us. Some promises He gives us He may intend to immediately fulfill. Others, He may just give us a promise, and then test us to see if we’re going to believe and trust that He is going to fulfill that promise.
Take Abraham for example. God told Abraham when he was still Abram that not only was he going to have a son, but that he would be the father of many nations. We all know that Abram began walking around introducing himself as Abraham the father of many nations. We also know from his story what happened when he grew impatient and tried to help God out by sleeping with one of his concubines…and to this day Isaac and Ishmael still fight (Christians and Muslims).
The reason that the Israelites couldn’t enter into the Promised Land is that they failed during the time in the wilderness to trust and obey and believe that God would deliver them into this land that He had promised them. They wandered in the wilderness for forty years because of their disbelief, and many of them died there in the wilderness because of their unbelief.
So, if God speaks a promise to you…it’s going to happen. It may not happen tomorrow, it may not even happen next week, next month or next year…but we can all rest assured of one thing…when God speaks a promise…it is going to be fulfilled…but it’s up to us to trust, obey and believe that He is able to perform that which He speaks…Amen!?!
A Word of Encouragement – “…be strong and brave!”
I don’t know about anyone, but some times I just feel like I’m on an island. I also feel some times like I’m inadequate to fulfill the call of God on my life, and it’s amazing to me how God always finds a way to give me a word of encouragement. It may come from His Word, it may come from my pastor, it may come from my wife or a friend…but God has never slacked on making sure that when I need encouragement…I get it. He knows. He knows when we need to be encouraged, and it’s awesome when it comes because it is always right on time…isn’t it!?!
A Word of Caution – “…be careful to do everything my servant Moses taught you.”
Most people take this idea of giving folk a word of caution too far. They’re so ready to judge your walk, your fruit, your ministry, and everything you say and do is under this gigantic microscope they use, and then they try to cover it up by saying that they’re just trying to speak the truth in love or they’re trying to point out our flaws so that we can work on them.
You know, the only person who walked through this life without sin was Jesus, and there isn’t anyone before Him or since Him that walked through this life and was literally perfect and did not only everything that was commanded through Moses, but by the Father as well. Jesus said that I only do and say what the Father says and does.
Most will tell you when you say that you’re not Jesus that it’s a cop-out, but the truth is I miss God on a regular basis…some times it’s unintentional…some times it’s willful disobedience…and some times I just flat mess up…but in no case has God ever thrown His hands up in disgust.
It’s good to caution people. I find myself doing that more than flat-out judging people because when you’re standing in judgment of someone you have no time or ability to love them. I find myself saying things kind of the way the Holy Ghost will say them to me. I may say something of a word of caution like “ you really ought to consider not doing that”…and that’s the extent of it. God’s job is to judge people’s lives…my job is to encourage them to make sure they’re doing the best they can to live a life that’s pleasing to God.
A Word of Wisdom – “Never stop reading The Book …”; “Day and night … think about what it says.”
We did a whole series titled “Why Read The Bible”. We started this series talking about how important reading the Bible is. Friends, reading and studying the Bible is a necessary part of our lives and walk with God. I’m not going to say much more about this point then this…if you want to know how important I feel Bible reading and study is to our relationship with God please read the series on “Why Read the Bible”…and hopefully that will help you understand the importance of personal Bible study and devotional time.
A Word of Assurance – “I will be there to help you wherever you go.”
Isn’t it comforting to know that God is never going to give us a task and then throw us to the wolves and say “good luck, son.” No, whatever task or place He gives or sends us on…He is always going to be there with us. We know that God isn’t a respecter of person, and if He said to Joshua that He would be with him…then He gives the same promise to us. No matter where you are or what you are doing…God is there with you…He will always be there to help us.
Although we have access to all of the tools and resources of the Information Age, many times we are so saturated with information and communication tools that we experience information overload. Our knowledge can become a million miles wide and one inch deep.
I know this to be true, for sure. I never feel like I know enough, and I pray that I always have that attitude when it comes to the Bible. I never want to feel like I know it all or have come to some great plateau of knowledge. I hope and pray that I always have the attitude that the depth of my knowledge is only and inch deep.
When God advised Joshua about what it would take to be an effective leader, God told him that it was important to do two things: 1) “never stop reading The Book” and 2) “Day and night … think … about what it says…”
God didn’t say anything about reading books by other authors teaching us how to be effective leaders in the church. God pointed to ONE BOOK as to the source for all of us who are members of the five-fold ministry gifts to the church to use to guide us and help us become the leaders of our ministries.
Now, don’t get that twisted. I read a John Maxwell book on leadership myself. I am not suggesting that reading books on leadership is wrong. What I am suggesting is wrong is when the books we read on church or business leadership take precedence over the Bible.
Friends, God tells us thru what He said to Joshua to meditate upon THIS BOOK. What book? The Bible, the Word of God…that is the book that we are to meditate upon day and night…and that IT would teach us and guide us and help us to become the leaders and people who God desires for us to be.
There is no other book written that has the power of the Bible to transform lives. Yes, there may be knowledge or understanding or revelation that we can gain by reading other books…but it is the Bible that we are to gain the majority of our instruction from. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that it’s the Bible that instructs us how to become people who are thoroughly equipped and mature in the things of God.
What are some simple yet satisfying ways to do more than just “read” the Bible?
Let’s take a moment to look at how we can answer this question:
Pray the Bible – Turn Bible passages into prayers that you pray over your life, congregation or family.
Friends, if you want to add some serious power to your prayer life…start praying scriptures that are in the Bible. We know that the Word of God is the Will of God. So, when we pray God’s Word we are automatically praying something that God is in complete agreement with because it’s what He said in His Word.
There are thousands of times I will pray something like: “Father, You said in Your Word that by Your stripes we are healed” Friends, when you pray the Scriptures you’re praying exactly what God said…and I cannot tell you how much power comes forth when you pray God’s Word…try it…I promise you…no God promises you that whatever you pray according to His Will it will be done for you…so since the Word of God is the Will of God…whenever you pray the Word of God you’re praying the Will of God…and that means whatever you’re praying…God’s answer is going to be “yes”.
Picture the Bible – When you read a Bible story, put your Bible down and open your imagination. Take some time to picture the story in your mind.
How many of you are like me and like to read the Christmas story, and when you read it can picture Mary and Joseph going from place to place trying to find a place where Mary can give birth to our Savior? How many of you can read about the Crucifixion and picture what Jesus must’ve gone through? How many of you can picture Peter walking on the water? I asked those questions because I tend to be able to read certain Bible stories like that where I can actually kind of picture what they did or where they were. I can picture the woman with the issue of blood crawling to touch the hem of Jesus’ robe. I can picture the people ripping the roof off of the house to lower the paralyzed man so he could get the healing touch from Jesus. Try it next time you read the story of the three wise men how they must’ve been startled to see such a bright star, and even more startled when an angel of the Lord spoke to them, but they began the journey to follow the star to find Jesus lying in the manger.
Ponder the Bible – When Mary was first told that she would bear the Christ child, the Bible says she “kept thinking…and wondering about” these things (Luke 2:19). The Word of God is meant to be carefully considered, treasured, reflected on, and pondered. Pondering the Bible and journaling can go hand in hand.
There’s a reason I take notes when I’m in church. There’s many a time that I will sit down and take notes of what I’m reading in the Bible because many times God will take me on little side journeys. But it is a very good idea to journal or take notes while you’re reading and being taught the Word of God.
Pondering is the same thing as meditating upon the Word. It’s just taking the time to really think about what you’re reading means, and maybe praying to ask God what it is He’s wanting to say to you through what you’re reading. It’s a great way to really be interactive with God when it comes to reading and studying because the main reason we read the Bible is to get revelation of His Word…and that’s always a prayer that He is going to say “yes” to because He wants us all to have a deeper and fuller understanding of what He says in His Word.
Practice the Bible – Lead your family or team in practically obeying biblical directives and principles regarding compassion and generosity through an act of service or compassionate ministry.
Here comes the practical part of Bible study. Not just reading it. Not just seeking to get more knowledge and understanding of it…but doing it. Taking the time to do what it is we are reading is a very important part of Bible study, and allowing what we read to impact our lives. We all know that James tells us that faith without works is dead, and I think that this verse is always misunderstood…especially by the religious people who use this to pad their argument that Christianity is a works based religion.
The truth is, the more of the Word of God I put into action the more my faith grows as I see God reward me for being obedient to His Word. Works has nothing to do with salvation at all. We cannot earn or do anything to work for or earn our salvation. If that’s the case then there isn’t going to be anyone saved because the only acceptable works that we can claim for our salvation wasn’t done by us, but by Jesus going to the Cross.
Basically, what is being said is that faith in your own works produces nothing by pride. That’s when you wind up with folks talking about how they do this, they do that, the give to this place, and volunteer to that place. It’s all they centered…it’s all about “look at me and what I am doing for God”. The truth is, friends, God’s not impressed by that stuff at all…especially when we take the credit for doing something for Him.
The Bible says that we’re to do all that we do for HIS glory. So, when I see people write or tweet or talk about all they do…my first thought is…are you really doing it for God or so that you can brag about what a great Christian you are?
Listen, when I write these messages many times I will go back and read them again, and while I might say or think that what I wrote was pretty good…rather than beat my chest and brag about what a great message I wrote…I always choose to give God the glory instead of myself. Because in reality, before every message I ask God to make my fingers as that as a pen of a ready writer…writing only of the oracles of God supplied by the supernatural ability and unction that only comes from the Holy Ghost so that I may write what thus saith the Lord…instead of thus saith Bryan. I want everything I write to be what God would have me to say, and therefore since everything I write is what God would have me to say…who am I to take the glory and credit for what He helped me to write!?!
So, my faith is not in my works, my ability, my strengths, my talents, or anything that comes from within me. My faith is in Jesus. My faith is in the Word of God that says that I can do all things through Christ’s strength. My faith is in the fact that as long as I abide in the Vine that Jesus will provide me with the ability to write some amazing messages…because He knows I will turn back and give Him the praise and glory and honor for because it belongs to Him anyways.
So, anyhow, the practical thing we have to do is obey what it is that God speaks to us to do through His Word. Practicing the Word is just as important as reading and studying it. We did that in school with our homework, right!?! So, we have to do the same thing with the Word of God. We have to read it, study it, and then try to apply it…and that’s how to be active in studying the Bible…Amen!?!
Often pastors face the temptation to pull back in their personal Bible study and engagement. Consider this: If the people of God need the Word of God to live spiritually, then how much more do those who lead the people of God need it?
And this gets us full circle back to what I started out this message talking about, and why I titled it “Don’t Neglect Your Quiet Time”. It’s important for those of us who are in ministry to not neglect our quiet time with God. Jesus often went off some where to be alone with the Father. The disciples were always looking for Him because it was a priority to Jesus to spend time with the Father…and if it was a priority for Jesus…don’t you think it ought to be for us too? I mean Jesus was the ultimate pastor, preacher, teacher, evangelist, apostle, prophet, and if He had to get alone and find some quiet time with His Father…then it stands to reason that we are going to have to do that very same thing…Amen!?!
I don’t know about you, but this message spoke to my heart about making sure that I’m not forsaking my personal Bible time. I know that I don’t spend nearly enough time in my quiet place with God as I should, and like I said in the beginning many of the messages I write speak to me as well…and I am going to have to take what I’ve written today and take it to heart myself.
As always, I appreciate every one of you that reads these messages. I know that I enjoy writing them, and I hope that they are helpful to you on your journey with God.
Thanks again for joining me with this message, and I hope you’ll join me with the next one…as we work to close out this series.
Blessings and Grace to you.
Pastor Bryan Kizer
Christlike Ministries NWA
“My love be with you all in Christ Jesus.” (1 Cor. 16:24)