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.

January 22, 2011

Captivated By A Person

Peter Mead is full-time with Operation Mobilization in the UK.  He blogs at Biblical Preaching where this article appeared this week under the title, Shine the Light on the Core Issue

It struck me afresh recently that many in our churches may be missing a very crucial element of Christianity.

They know the answers, they’ve prayed the prayer, they go to church, they live good lives, they may even witness (or they know that they should), they have grown to enjoy Christian gatherings, they see the emptiness of the world’s alternatives, they can explain the gospel, they look the part, they serve the church, they teach the children, they give to the collection, they make sacrificial decisions, they pray and they mean it and on it goes.  So much Christianity wrapped up in one life, but yet, what is missing?

Christ.

Christianity is not religion, nor is it ecclesiology, nor is it church participation, nor moral and ethical living, nor family tradition, nor schedule commitments, nor participation in a social gathering, nor any number of other things people seem to make it.  Christianity is about being in relationship with Christ.

When I first met my future wife and then returned home to England I spoke about her to folks here.  I remember one particular conversation.  I was enthusing about the person who I thought I might actually get to marry.  He was melancholic about the whole concept of relationships.  I shared information about her.  He shared complaints about the whole structure of dating and courting and marriage in his experience.  I talked about her.  He had yet more to say about the “institution” of romance.

I suppose you could observe that we were talking about the same thing.  The difference was that I was captivated by a person, he was not.

I wonder how many in the church today are ticking the boxes and we all assume they are safely in the family of God, but actually they are not.  One of the most overlooked verses in all of Scripture is in I Cor.16 where Paul states that “if any man does not love Christ, he is accursed.”  Perhaps we should be far slower to assume people are already born again based on the indicators of their confession, conduct and church participation.  Perhaps we should be looking for that delight that comes only from someone who knows someone special.  And perhaps in our preaching we should look for ways to shine the light of the Word beyond the peripheral issues, through the created “christian” structures that people hold to be their faith, and show the empty place where Christ should be captivating the heart and changing everything from the inside out.

– Peter Mead

Peter’s current product involves giving leadership to Cor Deo, a full-time mentored study and ministry training programme lasting five months involving  studying together during the week, then participating in ministry together during the weekends.  For further information about Cor Deo, either to pray for the ministry, or to find out more about participating, the Cor Deo website is www.cordeo.org.uk.