Starting off 2020, it wouldn’t it be nice to use 20/20 vision and land on a simple goal? One might say that it is the loftiest goal we could have. It’s one that I end up counseling people very often, so it’s deep on my heart. What is so often the need? Relationship…Deeper relationship…Deeper relationship with God. Well, that’s (over)simple enough, we say. Vision accomplished. But now we move towards Implementation, and that’s often where things go off the rails.
Defeater 1: Are you kidding? I’ve been a Christian over 10 years, and that is soooo basic. In fact, I’ll use the label “legalistic” (as that is the best way to sound holy in Christian circles nowadays and shoot someone down).
Response 1: Just like a chapter out of Screwtape letters, Wormwood beguiles us into thinking that devotional times are merely elementary, level 101. But when we get to the core of so many sin issues, whether they be porn, marital strife, selfishness, I have yet to find an individual deep in sin who also has a strong devotional life with the Lord. I’d estimate it to be a perfect 100% inverse relationship. Furthermore, legalism is keeping the letter of the law, but missing the spirit of the law. Spending time with the Lawgiver because He asks you to do so is not legalism. Avoiding doing so is to our own detriment, whether we’ve been a Christian 1 day, 1 year, 50 years.
Defeater 2: I shouldn’t bother with a devotional until I feel motivated.
Response 2: While it is surely better to be motivated and have desire, we must realize that is not our only reason for spending time with the Lord. How do you think a wife should respond to the husband who says, “Sorry babe, just not feeling any sort of deep desire to listen to you or spend time with you tonight. Let’s hope things feel tomorrow. I’ll go back to the other things I want to do now.” Wife: “Sure, the Spirit acts as He wishes. We just never know, do we? Hope I get some of your precious time tomorrow, Sweetie.” Blech.
Instead, just as the beginning basketball player might not want to spend time practicing free throws, the more he does, he develops some muscle memory and good habits. He even develops an appreciation for discovering new techniques that he never realized were possible in the first place. His enjoyment grows.
Vision: Grow in relationship with God.
Implementation: Do so through spending devotional times with Him.
Strategy: Use structure and purpose in these meetings.
Let’s challenge ourselves to spend time in God’s Word. Reading through God’s Word is not a guarantee that there will be revival in your heart. But at least you are giving God room to work.
- Begin with prayer, “Open my eyes that I may see wondrous things out of your Law (Psalm 119:18)”
- Have an expectant attitude that God would show you something this day (Psalm 63:1).
- Walk through some book/passage consistently for the week. We so often go on topical searches in the Bible – something about anger, something about lust, something about love. Those are helpful. But God is bigger than that. Let His Spirit have more freedom to shape your life by using whatever book you decide to study. You’ll be surprised how it then guides your relationships, your worship, your challenges.
- Spend time praying and meditating through what you read.
- Find application – something that you should think, feel or do differently.
- So often the Bible challenges us to “remember”. Journal a very simple reminder of what the Lord showed you today.
I’ve seen too many folks struggling in spending time with the Lord. My desire is that we, myself included, be encouraged towards enjoying greater depth in our relationship with the Lord. I realize that it is simply said, but that doesn’t mean it’s as easy to put into action. But the results in relationship do easily make it worth the effort. Let’s do so by spending quality time with our Savior, expecting Him to bless us.
I appreciate the guidance from Kingdom Formation on spiritual development.