e. Solitude


Key Verse: Mark 6:31 "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest."

Once we have established an open communication with our Heavenly Father, spending time with Him alone will be a natural next step. After all, when we have a close friend, we also enjoy spending time together alone.

Jesus enjoyed time alone with God as well.

Mark 6:46 "After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray."

Matt 14:23 "After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray."

When facing His biggest trial of all: His crucifixion on Golgotha, He spend time with God alone in the garden of Gethsemane.

Matt 26:36-46 "Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray." He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled. Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."

Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" He asked Peter. "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."

He went away a second time and prayed, "My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done."

When he came back, he again found them sleeping, because their eyes were heavy. So he left them and went away once more and prayed the third time, saying the same thing.

Then he returned to the disciples and said to them, "Are you still sleeping and resting? Look, the hour is near, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us go! Here comes my betrayer!"

Solitude with God is an unforgettable experience and once we taste this unique fellowship with our Heavenly Father, we will long for more time with Him alone.

"But I live in a big city. Where can I spend time with God alone?"

It does not matter where you spend your time alone with God, as long as you are alone with Him and have no distractions from concentrating on your relationship with Him. You could go to a park, or on a mountain, or even in the desert. If that is not possible any other place would do. Jesus encourages us to spend time alone with God in our own room. Make sure your phone is turned off, as this is an unneeded distraction.

Matt 6:6 "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."

We can even spend time alone with our Maker while driving a car. All of a sudden we have a purpose for driving, and our drive back and forth from work stops being a drag.

I love going for Power walks with my Forever Friend, especially in places where there are hardly any people, like on a deserted peer or in the countryside.

"What should I bring with me? Can I bring movies, music and books?"

The purpose for this solitude is to be alone with God. Movies, music and books, although possibly being a blessing, would be an unnecessary distraction. However bringing God's Word is fine, as often God speaks to us through His Word.

“What do I do with my time alone with God?”

Do what you would do if you were alone with your closest friend: talk with each other.  Share your life with Him, your concerns at work and at home, your hopes for the future and the joys of your life.  Reflect over your past actions. Thank Him for what He is doing in your life. Ask for His advice and give Him time to respond to you.  Listen to His voice.  You have already read the story entitled “Power Walk with my Forever Friend” and this gives you an idea how to enjoy your communication with your Forever Friend.

Another one of my favorites is to dwell on a specific Bible text and read it word for word, meditating on each word and/or sentence and letting God talk to me directly through His Word.  The Bible will soon become your favorite book as you will discover that God talks to you directly and personally through it.

At first you may think that spending time in solitude is a waste of time, especially since we live in a world filled with “hurry sickness”.  Tasks seem to endlessly pile up at work and at home.  Stress becomes the norm of our life and we seem to adapt as everyone else in the “rushing mood” syndrome.

Amazingly you will soon discover that spending time with Him alone will help you deal more efficiently with your problems and tasks of life and soon you will experience life to the fullest.  Why?  Jesus explains this in

Matt 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”  

John 10:10 “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

One way to relieve yourself of stress on a daily basis is to write down the Bible text(s) God impresses upon you in the morning.  Whenever you have the opportunity throughout the day, meditate on this text(s) and draw strength from it (them), while at the same time communicate with your Forever Friend wherever you are.  Although you may be surrounded by people, you will feel His presence and His love and will draw strength from the fact that He is there for you.  These Bible texts will be your little pockets of solitude with your Maker throughout the day.  They will be such a stress relief that you will hunger for your next little pocket of communication with the One who really cares for you!

Question 1: What is the purpose for spending time with God alone?

Answer:

Question 2: Where can you spend time in solitude with God?

Answer:

Question 3: What can you do while spending quality time with your Forever Friend?

Answer:

Question 4: Where do you plan to spend time alone with your Maker?  Have you set a time to do so?

Answer:

Enjoy reading the following couple of experiences of people who spend time with God alone.

a. Our melody (The fruits of Matthew 7)

Today I was awakened by the soft sweet voice of our Lord, encouraging me to get up and go for a power walk with Him. As I stepped outside of my house in the country, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the many birds singing praises to the Lord. Then, all of a sudden, this beautiful concerto was drowned out by the blaring toot of an approaching train. This didn't stop the birds from singing their symphony, however. They kept on singing happily as if nothing had happened. It just made it nearly impossible to hear them.

The Lord immediately made me aware that often we as Christians are like these trains. We think we are doing a great job for the Lord, but we are really only making a horrible noise in His ears. But, why am I so hard on trains? Don't they bring goods into cities? And they don't stop for anything until their load is delivered! These are good things, right? Likewise, Christians are involved in ministries to the benefit of others! And they often don't stop at anything until their work for the Lord is complete. But unless we spend quality time with the Lord, all of our "works" are meaningless, and they succeed being thunderous noises in God's ears that drown out the beautiful praises all around.

Wow!

I immediately began to wonder if I spend so much time in ministry that I don't have time to spend with Christ!

The Lord replied: "Only if you let your ministry take precedence over me. Just like the singing of birds are more important to me than the blaring toot of a thundering train, so my relationship with you is more important to me than your ministry."

As I was pondering these words a few hours later in church, a lady with the voice of a nightingale sang a solo to the glory of God. "She is singing as sweetly as those birds this morning, Lord!" I thought. "This is a great ministry she is offering!"

"Only if she follows MY melody!" Was the immediate reply.

It is true that we, as Christians, often tend to sing our songs by our own melody. Our melody should always be in tune with our relationship with Christ. It's all about Him, not us!

As I opened God's Word, the same message was given to me again. Whenever God gives His message 3 times in one day to someone, it is of utmost importance, and it's of even more importance when He puts a burden on someone's heart to share this with others. So here I am pecking away on my keyboard, delivering God's message to you.

Matt 7:16 "By their fruit you will recognize them."

As soon as I read this text, I was thinking of Gal 5:22. However the Lord said that this was not the fruit He had in mind and to continue to read on.

To my surprise verses 21 and 22 jumped out at me: "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?'"

The context clearly shows that the fruit in Matthew 7 is NOT prophesying in the Lord's name, nor is it driving demons out nor performing miracles. Aren't those fruits of God's Spirit? I wouldn't be able to drive out demons without God's Spirit. So aren't these manifestations of discipleship? But the Lord told me No!

So what could the fruit be?

"Read on!"

Then I saw it:

1. Verse 23: "Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!' "

The fruit referring in Matthew 7 is having a personal relationship with God the Father. If we don't know Him, ministry becomes unimportant. Ministry only becomes relevant when we can converse with our Heavenly Father and when we hear His tender and loving voice! Again, it is not our melody, but God's melody!

2. Verse 24: "Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock."

The fruit is not only hearing God's voice. It is putting into practice what He is telling us. A ministry only becomes relevant if it's where God wants us to be. Again, a personal relationship with God is stressed in Matthew 7.

3. Verse 25: "The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock."

The fruit is also having our foundation on the Rock of our salvation: Jesus Christ. So many problems would easily be solved if we yielded to Jesus. He has the answer to all of our problems. Our ministry as well should be founded on Jesus Christ, because He told us to!

Christianity is not just another religion, where people through their works are trying to please a God. In fact, God doesn't care about our works. He says it plainly in Eph 2:8-9: "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God- not by works, so that no one can boast." We are saved because of Jesus. Our ministry only becomes relevant because of Jesus. We are righteous only because of Jesus. Our fruit is only produced by Jesus! No wonder Jesus could boldly say: John 15:5: "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing."

Am I carrying fruit at all? If so, which fruit am I carrying? Join me in bearing Jesus' fruit! Let us welcome Jesus as our personal Saviour and enjoy our personal relationship with Him. It is time to stop the train and to start playing God's melody. He is our all and our reason of being. Hallelujah!

Rob Chaffart



b. Where I Found God

My wife had died from cancer resulting in the following questions. Why? What to do with my life? To resolve my personal/spiritual issues, I took a two week vacation to New Mexico. I will skip all the natural beauty I visited in that state and tell of meeting God.

South of the Carlsbad Caverns, past Rattlesnake pass lies an isolated area where few people visit. I had a f riend drop me off in the middle of this desolate area with water, food and plenty of sunscreen. I was alone for the first time in my life. No cars, no phone, no buildings within view. No people, nothing but the solitude of the desert. I wondered how many people have the courage to face themselves alone? To face ones fears, ones disappointments, ones shortcomings is not a task easily dealt with. A large boulder became my "home base". At the base of the boulder was an area good for kneeling and praying. I opened my heart to God. I prayed for hours on end asking, thanking, searching for my soul to be filled. There amoungst the lizards and creatures of the desert, one man searching for his idenity. The desert answered my prayers. God directed the answers. I am important in the scheme of His plan. Enduring well to the end is what I must do. He had a plan for me, "Be not disheartened" was the theme I learned that day.

My friend picked me up towards evening and within a couple of hours I was back in civilization. I was transformed, changed, a different person. A power had filled me.

Did God really talk to me, did He tell me the truth? Results are the answer and within a year, I met my future wife, Carolina. She is a beautiful person inside and out. I learned that life is worth living, that God in His place and time, not ours, will provide us with all we need.

B. J. Cassady Guthrie, Oklahoma BJ.CASSADY@af-group.com

Assignment: The following exercise will give you the opportunity to spend time with God alone. I would suggest spending at least one hour with your Maker, half-a-day if possible. Choose the place where you will spend that time carefully and make sure to avoid any unnecessary distractions. I would recommend bringing your Bible with you and possibly some paper and a pen to record your experiences with God.

The steps below will give you a possible outline of how to spend that time with God. However I encourage you to follow God's Holy Spirit's promptings as He is your guide. Relax, put your mind to rest and enjoy your time with your Forever friend.

"Still Yourself

…People often struggle with distractions when they pray. A few minutes of preparation can help. Don't trouble yourself with what you have to do later or what happened yesterday. Connect with right now; put soon and recently out of your mind. You can think about all that later. If you need to, write down ideas that come to you, things to do, and "park them" on your pad of paper so they don't interfere with your concentration but you don't forget them, either.

Invite God's Presence

Now acknowledge that God is present with you. Thank him for his never-failing companionship. Place yourself in his hands. Ask him to help you be sensitive to his leadings. Invite him to speak to you in whatever way is most needed.

Focus Your Thoughts

Turn to Colossians 3:12 -17 and read those verses several times. Don't try to dissect the passage. Don't worry about what you don't understand; concentrate on what's clear. Let the words speak to you in simplicity-let them "dwell in you richly."

Reflection and Personal Review

Keep your Bible open to Colossians 3. Use this passage as a verse-by-verse guide for a time of reflection and personal review. We've given you some thoughts to stimulate your thinking, but don't limit yourself to these. Speak freely to God, asking him to speak freely to you. Write down your observations as you go (unless writing becomes a hindrance to uninterrupted meditation).

"As God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved. . . ."

Imagine ... the Sovereign God choosing you-knowing you, wanting you, pursuing you. Think back to the picture of the gracious father running to embrace the prodigal son. Picture God running to embrace you the very first time you repented-- and every time since then. He has invited you to sit with him at a banquet in your honor. Imagine him declaring you forever perfect and holy in his eyes.

Ponder the thought that you are his beloved. Your presence and companionship matter to him. God wants to be with you at this very moment. He doesn't have to-but he desires you. What does that mean to you, even right now?

"Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus. . . ."

Reflect on your spiritual journey recently--particularly as you have been consciously trying to live your everyday life "in Jesus' name." What work has God been doing in you?

It might be helpful to make a note of some of the specific times when you got it right--times when you:

o brought Jesus' love and grace to bear in a difficult situation; o "clothed yourself" in compassion, kindness, or patience;

o exercised humility when it would have been easier to exercise self-promotion;

o extended forgiveness or brought Christ's spirit of peace and reconciliation to bear in a situation; or

o confronted a situation head-on when avoidance would have been easier.

Are you aware of any specific factors that helped you live like Jesus in those situations?

Take some time to reflect on the encouraging signs of growth. Consider every new step of faith, trust, or obedience. God's transforming work is happening inch-by-inch in your life. Can you imagine his delight? One of his beloved children (you!) Is making progress. Here you are-this very minute-seeking him as best you know how. That's exactly what he died to make possible. Sit , quietly and allow yourself to receive his words of affirmation.

Receive Forgiveness Anew

Continue using the passage from Colossians, but turn your attention to those areas needing correction. Reflect on the ways you have struggled, felt frustrated, or failed during the past month or so. Be specific and concrete. Were there direct acts of disobedience? Perhaps you neglected to do all that you could have lovingly done in a situation.

Do you notice any patterns in these experiences? Were there any common denominators: careless words, withholding love, spiritual timidity, a critical spirit, self-promotional tendencies, lust, greed, arrogance? What specific factors contributed to these less-than-successful attempts to live like Jesus?

Take a few moments to bring these areas to God in honest confession. Ask for his forgiveness, power, and help in each area.

Be sure you allow God to speak his words of forgiveness. If needed, refresh your mind with the truths of Psalm 103:8--14 and Philippians 1:6. Rest in God's grace and trust his unwavering commitment to you and your growth.

"Let the Peace of Christ rule in your hearts.... be thankful.... sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. . . ."

Now allow grace to become gratitude. Let your thankfulness find full and free expression. Let God know-and hear yourself say-how grateful you are for all that fills your life. If you're able, even thank him that the difficulties you face can become places where he will meet you and show himself gracious on your behalf. It can be helpful to bring your exercise to a definite close. A phrase like, "Thank you, Lord, for this time together; I now offer it up to you and invite you to walk with me throughout this day," can help create an ending point.

Review the Experience

Before you make the transition back into your daily activities, take a few minutes to reflect on what has just happened. What did you observe happening in yourself as you had this time of solitude? Did your mind wander? Did you talk to God about how hard it was to stay focused? Did it feel pleasant? What was the high point? When was it difficult? How would you summarize what happened if you had to tell someone about it right now?"

Ortberg, John; Laurie Pederson and Judson Poling. Fully Devoted. Living Each Day in Jesus' Name. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2000, p. 46-49.

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