Devotionals: Many Christians love their devotionals. Many ministry meetings and classroom discussion begin with a reading from a favorite devotional. But how many of us can remember the entire content of that same devotional at the end of the day? How many of us can remember at least “half” of how it made us “feel”? Devotionals are wonderful in the way they can place our minds in the right frame at the beginning of each day and with peace at the conclusion of each day. Topical, theological, historical, personal, and even children’s devotionals can warm the spirit and heart like a soft fuzzy blanket on a cold winter night. But isn’t it frustrating when we try to recall what we’ve read, to our friends, merely half a day later, and somehow that mysteriously warm current of energy which zipped through our body at the time of reading is now stagnant, dull and fuzzy, not like a warm blanket, but more like a long lost dream!? Why? The answer may not be the same for all of us, but for some, it might simply be that we’re trying to remember all the nuggets gleaned from the entire devotional! What if we were to limit into our memory only one idea or “take-away” from the many? This could mean, then, that a single devotional could be used for several days depending on how many different “ah-ha’s” hit you.
For example, let’s take two favorites; Oswald Chambers (Utmost for His Highest) and Sarah Young (Jesus Calling). Obviously, there is much to be unpacked in each one of their daily devotionals. What some have discovered to be tremendously helpful is to use a daily reading and take one simple truth (not every truth) from the reading and place it on a card to be carried throughout the day. By the end of the day, it is memorized, communicated and applied. I just want to add a little something here, out of context but very important; that this process is one that is best used with scriptures from the Bible, the more you do, the easier and more fluid it becomes and soon you’ll be writing your own devotionals!
Continuing…now let’s try it with 2 devotional examples! I would love to discuss our findings together…it will be exciting to learn from each other, as “iron sharpens iron” (Proverbs 27:17). First, pray a short prayer to our Triune God, thanking Him for this time together and to lead you to the revelation He wants you to see and do for today.
“The Lord spoke thus to me with a strong hand . . .” (Isaiah 8:11). There is no escape when our Lord speaks. He always comes using His authority and taking hold of our understanding. Has the voice of God come to you directly? If it has, you cannot mistake the intimate insistence with which it has spoken to you. God speaks in the language you know best— not through your ears, but through your circumstances.
God has to destroy our determined confidence in our own convictions. We say, “I know that this is what I should do”-and suddenly the voice of God speaks in a way that overwhelms us by revealing the depths of our ignorance. We show our ignorance of Him in the very way we decide to serve Him. We serve Jesus in a spirit that is not His, and hurt Him by our defense of Him. We push His claims in the spirit of the devil; our words sound all right, but the spirit is that of an enemy. “He . . . rebuked them, and said, ’You do not know what manner of spirit you are of’ ” (Luke 9:55). The spirit of our Lord in His followers is described in 1 Corinthians 13 .
Have I been persecuting Jesus by an eager determination to serve Him in my own way? If I feel I have done my duty, yet have hurt Him in the process, I can be sure that this was not my duty. My way will not be to foster a meek and quiet spirit, only the spirit of self-satisfaction. We presume that whatever is unpleasant is our duty! Is that anything like the spirit of our Lord— “I delight to do Your will, O my God . . .” (Psalm 40:8).
Example 2: Jesus Calling (January 9)
I am with you and for you. When you decide on a course of action that is in line with My will, nothing in heaven or on earth can stop you. You may encounter many obstacles as you move toward your goal, but don’t be discouraged—never give up! With My help, you can overcome any obstacle. Do not expect an easy path as you journey hand in hand with Me, but do remember that I, your very-present Helper, am omnipotent.
Much, much stress results from your wanting to make things happen before their times have come. One of the main ways I assert My sovereignty is in the timing of events. If you want to stay close to Me and do things My way, ask Me to show you the path forward moment by moment. Instead of dashing headlong toward your goal, let Me set the pace. Slow down, and enjoy the journey in My Presence.
What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? —Romans 8:31
God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, Even though the earth be removed, And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;Though its waters roar and be troubled, Though the mountains shake with its swelling. —Psalm 46:1–3 nkjv
“For nothing is impossible with God.” —Luke 1:37
So, now that we have two example devotionals, what ONE thing did you take away with today, that you will remember it and apply it throughout your day? By the way, don’t discard your “take-away” for the day, if you collect them and review them, they can become your personal “timeless principals” for you life and as time passes, you will be able to see your growth in Christ! Remember, we should always use devotionals as a source of inspiration and use these developed skills towards Bible passages (perhaps we should start in the book of our favorite verse (mine is Galatians 1:10)–just food for thought!)) I’d love to hear your insights!