How to Spend Time with Jesus
How to Spend Time with Jesus
I first encountered Jesus in February 1974. I am so grateful to those who taught me, right from the start, the importance of what they called ‘the quiet time’.
The old-fashioned expression ‘the quiet time’ (meaning time set aside to read the Bible and pray) probably has its origin in the words of Jesus in today’s New Testament passage, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place’ (Mark 6:31). Practically every morning since I was eighteen years of age, I have begun the day in this way. I try to spend time with Jesus, by myself, in a quiet place. Sometimes it is very brief, sometimes it is longer. But just as I do not like beginning the day without breakfast, I cannot imagine beginning the day without spiritual food.
Nearly always, I start by reading the Bible, as I believe it’s more important that Jesus speaks to me than I speak to him. My thoughts from each day are now the basis of these notes that accompany the Bible in One Year.
Time to look to GodPsalm 25:1-7
Do you ever feel daunted by your circumstances? Do you ever fear that you might fail and end up disappointed or even ashamed?
David clearly had such fears and gives us an example of how to start a quiet time. He begins by saying, ‘Unto You, O Lord, do I bring my life’ (v.1, AMP). He is determined to trust God despite all the challenges that lie ahead. He goes on, ‘O my God, I trust, lean on, rely on, and am confident in You. Let me not be put to shame or [my hope in You] be disappointed; let not my enemies triumph over me’ (v.2, AMP).
He says, in effect, ‘I am looking to you, God’ (v.1, MSG). He was obviously under attack, but he trusted that God would never let him be put to shame (v.3). His hope was in God ‘all day long’ (v.5).
Take time each day to look to God in preparation for what lies ahead. Ask for God’s mercy, forgiveness, help, guidance and deliverance.
Lord, I pray for your guidance in everything I’m involved in today: ‘Take me by the hand; Lead me down the paths of truth… plan only the best for me, God!’ (vv.5,7, MSG).
Time alone with JesusMark 6:30-56
Jesus taught his disciples the priority of time alone with him. He said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place’ (v.31b) and they went off by themselves ‘to a solitary place’ (v.32).
There was so much action going on in Jesus’ life that it must have been very hard for him to escape and get some rest (v.31). God was using him in amazing ways – feeding the 5,000 and walking on water for a start! He saw the vast needs of all the people (‘He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd’, v.34).
They were desperate for him and were literally running towards him (vv.33,55). Nevertheless, Jesus found it necessary to send them all off. He needed some solitude. He climbed a mountain to pray (vv.45–46). He prioritised his time alone with God.
Prayer and action go hand in hand. The activity comes out of the relationship. Jesus ‘had compassion on them’ (v.34). The word used is the strongest word in the Greek language for ‘pity’. ‘His heart broke’ (v.34, MSG).
Jesus was constantly developing and encouraging the disciples in their ministry. He did not merely feed the 5,000 miraculously by himself. He said to them, ‘You give them something to eat’ (v.37).
Sometimes I feel daunted by the ministry God has given to me. Often, I feel I have little to offer the people I am called to serve. I take great comfort from this passage. Jesus can do a lot with a little. If you offer to Jesus the little you have, he can multiply it and meet the needs of all the people.
Jesus was efficient, organised and practical. He ‘told them to make all the people sit down in groups on the green grass. So they sat down in groups of hundreds and fifties’ (vv.39–40).
After the disciples had fed the 5,000, Jesus sent them off again by themselves. He made his disciples get into a boat and go on ahead of him, while he went up on a mountainside to pray.
Even when we are doing what Jesus tells us to do, it is sometimes very difficult and hard work. There are times when I feel ‘agitated (troubled and filled with fear and dread)’ (v.50, AMP). The disciples were ‘straining at the oars, because the wind was against them’ (v.48). When Jesus joined them he said, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid’ (v.50).
As Jesus climbed into the boat with them, ‘the wind died down’ (v.51). We see a picture of the difference Jesus makes to our lives. It is an uphill struggle unless you are conscious of Jesus’ presence with you.
Only those who recognise Jesus (v.54) can enjoy this relationship. Those who did recognise him ran towards him (v.55) and – I love these words – ‘all who touched him were healed’ (v.56).
Lord, thank you that in the storms of life you say to me, ‘Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid’ (v.50).
Time to receive help from GodExodus 31:1-33:6
Part of the reason Jesus wanted his disciples to come away was to get some rest (Mark 6:31). We see in this passage the importance of rest and refreshment (Exodus 31:13–17). Look ahead at your schedule and make sure that you put these times in as a priority.
Time alone with Jesus includes listening to him. The main way in which we hear Jesus speak to us is through the Bible. It is often when I fail to spend time alone with Jesus that I more easily succumb to temptation or feel afraid.
In Exodus 32, we see that however much God has done for us in the past, we so quickly forget and doubt him and, as a result, fall into sin: ‘They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them’ (32:8).
The initial cause of their idolatry was a lack of patience. They did not wait for God’s timing. The fact that God takes what we consider to be a long time does not mean that he is not at work.
After the people had made the golden calf as an idol, it was the prayer of Moses that averted total disaster (vv.11–14). By the power of prayer it is possible to change the course of history.
Aaron was held responsible for the idolatry: ‘What did these people do to you, that you led them into such a great sin?’ (v.21). Actually, Aaron simply followed popular opinion. It was the people’s idea, which he had put into action. Yet in God’s sight he was still the leader. He should have stood against them, rather than allowing himself to be persuaded to lead them into sin.
Aaron replied, ‘You know how prone these people are to evil… they gave me the gold and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!’ (vv.22–24). This is obviously nonsense but it is easy to distort the truth slightly to justify ourselves.
Today’s passage can be more fully understood in the light of St Paul’s exposition of it in the New Testament. He writes, ‘Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did’ (1 Corinthians 10:6). This passage warns us about four things:
- Self-indulgence (1 Corinthians 10:7; Exodus 32:6)
- Promiscuity (1 Corinthians 10:8, MSG)
- Self-worship (v.9)
- Grumbling (v.10).
The severity of the punishments the people of God faced is a mark of how serious and destructive these sins are, ‘and were written down as warnings for us’ (v.11). This shows us God’s unwillingness simply to let things fester.
Yet Paul does not just leave it there, he tells us how to deal with temptation: ‘No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it’ (v.13, MSG).
These final words remind us of God’s extraordinary grace towards us helping us through temptation. However, even when we fall down in these areas we can be forgiven through Jesus.
Lord, thank you for the amazing privilege that we have of being able to spend time in your presence. Thank you that I can listen to your voice and that you speak to me. Help me to be careful not to fall into temptation. Keep me walking in a close relationship with you each day.
How quickly people get into mischief when left to their own devices. Aaron should have known better – he had been part of many great miracles. But even he was led astray by the crowd. Only Moses remained totally faithful. He didn’t go along with the crowd. Leadership can be lonely. Moses was a true leader.
Verse of the Day
‘… all who touched [Jesus] were healed’ (Mark 6:56).
Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.
Scripture quotations marked (AMP) taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. (www.Lockman.org)
Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.