I am afflicted very much; revive me, O Lord, according to Your Word (Psalm 119:107, NKJV)
I recently returned from Lakeland, Fla., where I led a Bible study workshop for The First Baptist Church on the Mall. Although Pastor Jay Dennis does not hold weekly Sunday night services, he had announced that I would share with any who came how they could read the Bible in order to hear God's voice speaking to them. So on a balmy Florida evening when there were many distractions, including football playoff games, hundreds of men, women, and young people gathered to sharpen their "listening" skills as I led them into the Word.
Heaven surely applauded as people from all walks of life, feeling the pressures of day-to-day responsibilities, the uncertainty of crisis after crisis in our world, the hurt over problems within their families and businesses, sought to refocus on eternal Truth. I experienced a sweet rapport with the audience because, like so many of those who gathered, my spirit also can get overwhelmed and I can feel burdened on the inside. At such times, I have drawn encouragement from Jesus' disciples, who also experienced problems, pressures, and unwelcome news.
In Mark 6 they seemed to go through an emotional roller coaster when they were bombarded with the horror of the brutal beheading of John the Baptist; the thrill of experiencing the power of God to change lives through their ministry; and the exhaustion of having no time to even eat because so many people made demands on them. Jesus, understanding their emotional, spiritual, and physical needs of the moment, invited them to, "Come with Me by yourselves."
As I looked out at the sea of faces, I was impressed that those before me were the James, John, and Peter of Lakeland. They were the ones who had intentionally made the effort on that Sunday night to draw aside and spend some time with Jesus. It was a joy to affirm their participation, because His solution for the disciples of old is His same solution for disciples today. We need to draw aside and spend time with Him. It's like setting our spiritual compass. Our daily time of retreat keeps the "needle" of our hearts and minds focused on Him, regardless of what happens during the day. So...
If you, too, are bombarded by pressures, problems, or unwelcome news...
If your spirit is overwhelmed within you...
If you long for intimate fellowship with a loving friend...
If you feel spiritually dry because you have allowed your work to come before your worship...
...then ask God to speak to you as you open your Bible and read.
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