Christianity 201

November 15, 2011

Devotional Meditation Time: A Morning Habit

Today’s post is from Duke Taber’s blog, Taber’s Truth, where it appeared under the title Devotional Ideas: A Fresh Look at Morning Devotions.

You get up in the morning, groggy and sleepy eyed. Maybe you take your shower and have a cup of coffee and then for many Christians it is off to do your “morning devotions“. You may find a quiet place in the house if that is possible, or go to your computer and look up a devotional like Spurgeon’s Morning and Evening or Oswald Chamber’s My utmost for His highest or if you are really hip then you go and read Greg Laurie’s devotional. Yet all of it seems to no longer speak to you or you seem like you are just going through the motions and it is not having an impact on your spiritual life. Well I hope to give you a fresh look at how to approach your morning devotions and may some new ideas about what really is the purpose of morning devotions.

The purpose of morning devotions.

If you are like me, when you gave your life to Jesus, you didn’t have a clue about what it was to live out the Christian life. You listened intently to every word your pastor said trying to gleam insight into how to put into practice your new found faith. One of those things was probably a message on having “quiet times” with the Lord in the morning and to “put God first before all of your other earthly activities”. This was called doing “morning devotions”. You were given a format about how to do a morning devotion like a time of prayer, reading the Bible, and a little book with spiritual thoughts concerning the Christian faith and living out that faith. Usually written by people well respected and admired in the Christian community especially from days gone by. If you did these things then that proved you were devoted to God and had your priorities in the right place. However what was the purpose of having a devotional in the first place. Why did these great men of God become so great? Was it not because of their “devotion” to God? So their purpose in having a morning devotion was not to “put Jesus first” since He was already first, nor was it to schedule a “quiet time” with the Lord but it was an outworking of a very intimate relationship that already existed. They were already devoted. They were already in love with the Lord. The purpose of their morning devotion was to spend time with someone that they adored.

Fresh Ideas for your morning devotional

  • Approach your morning devotion the same way you would approach your relationship with your spouse. Instead of having a list to accomplish or ingredients to place into your morning devotion, instead start building relationship with Jesus. Those things can include reading the bible, or using another man’s thoughts on Christianity, but they don’t have too. Think about it. If you took your wife on the same date every single night, wouldn’t that date become old and wouldn’t your wife start to complain quickly about your thoughtlessness and lack of care? Our Lord is a real person. I can imagine that He is just as bored with the same ole same ole as you are! How about spicing up your love relationship with Jesus by a change of scenery or agenda or even having no agenda at all except to spend time with Him?
  • Change the purpose of your morning devotional. Instead of trying to prove something or get something from God, like a good day with no troubles (which was one of the promises I heard that would happen if I did morning devotionals), to just learning something new in how to build your relationship with Jesus. Make the purpose of your morning devotional to learn the heart of our Lord. Don’t do it for what is in it for you, but do it because you truly care to know the real and living Christ.
  • Allow spontaneity in your relationship with Jesus. Give yourself the freedom that instead of sitting at your normal spot, take a walk, go for a drive, sit by a lake or at the beach. Play music that encourages you to worship the Lord. Just talk with Jesus and then take time to listen. You don’t need Spurgeon or Chambers or even Greg Laurie to tell you what God is saying. You are more than capable of hearing His voice yourself and it will mean much more to you and be much more personal than someone else’s. John 10:27  Make it a relationship and not a ritual. Relationships grow, build, change over time. Make your relationship one that becomes a full fledged love affair with your Savior.
I have found that my most treasured time in the morning now is the time I spend with the lover of my soul. Just as C. Austin Miles wrote in the beloved hymn from 1912

I come to the garden alone
While the dew is still on the roses
And the voice I hear falling on my ear
The Son of God discloses.

And He walks with me, and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.

He speaks, and the sound of His voice,
Is so sweet the birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.

I’d stay in the garden with Him
Though the night around me be falling,
But He bids me go; through the voice of woe
His voice to me is calling.

So you can have the type of love relationship with Jesus that goes beyond just “doing” a morning devotional.
Duke Taber is the pastor of the Vineyard Christian Fellowship of Pine Haven Wyoming.

June 16, 2011

Information is not Transformation

Pete Wilson, yesterday:

One Of The Greatest Challenges In Contemporary Christianity

I believe one of the most obvious challenges in contemporary Christianity is we mistakenly assume that information automatically translates into transformation. However, knowing something is true does not in and of itself ensure that the truth will make a significant difference in our lives.

James 1:22-25   Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.  Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like a man who looks at his face in a mirror and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it—he will be blessed in what he does.

We have more access to great information than ever before.

  • Unbelievable Bible study tools available on the internet for stinkin’ free.
  • Phenomenal messages from the world’s best pastors one click away, thanks to podcasts.
  • In-depth and engaging bible studies adorning the shelves of bookstores all across America.

So what’s the problem?

We have to find a way to transfer all this incredible information that we know in our minds to our hearts so it can be lived out. We have to find a way to, as James puts it, “look intently into.” The word for “looks intently into” (parakypsas) literally means “to stoop down” in order to have a good close look.

Here’s my two cents. In order to “stoop down” you have to “slow down.” There’s not a crisis of information, but of transformation. And the greatest enemy of transformation, in a word, is hurry.

So slow down, stoop into God’s Word, actually do what it says, and see if the transformation doesn’t follow.