You had your “Quiet Time” today? Have you spent time “In the Word?” Done any “Bible Study” today before bed? “I hope you read your “Chapter of the Day!”
This idea has been turning in my gut for the past few days. “Daily Devotions.” That’s a phrase that’s used to describe the daily commitment of time that many Christians have where we read/study the Bible, spend time in prayer, maybe journal a bit, and hope to grow spiritually. This is a great practice. The problem for me is that way too often, I take this habit as lightly as the words sound. They sound like a flute when a trumpet blast is needed! Life is thick and my Bible Study needs to be thicker! Am I coming to Jesus or just spending some minutes reading pleasant words in quiet contemplation? I mean, I need to dialogue with the maker and sustainer of the world to whom all things belong (Colossians 1:15-16)! And the way has been opened to me through the death of Jesus! Now, when I do something stupid and dishonor Jesus, I can run to Him in prayer and confess my sins! If my heart is grieved, I can cry out to the living God and beg for mercy, peace or release! I’ve had it with holy-pep-talk quiet times. My enemies are strong, temptations many, my sins are real! My needs seem endless, my days are full, my dreams are big! When I come to Lord, I need not be prim and proper, pleasant and contained anymore. Get real! Often, I’m afraid of failure, exhausted from fighting, sad for my losses and I need to dare to hope that the Lord of the Universe can and will care about little old me! I hear about earthquakes, consider victims of evil, threats of war and corruption -out there. I strain to move on from past sins, fight wicked thoughts in me while trying to raise boys into men. I have a wife I don’t want to let down, a family to support, a community to learn and love; what business do I have kicking pebbles at the doorway to the King of Kings! God rescue me from foolish hesitation or reluctance, I need to pound the table when it needs pounding. The Lord’s not scared! He’s not going to run or give me some space to cool down! The fact is that God is more zealous for good than I am! Why shouldn’t…why wouldn’t I come to him all out?
It’s a funny thing about the word “devoted.” See, in the early days of the Lord’s relationship with His people, God called for “devotions.” Except the things God wanted devoted weren’t little tidy bits to placate him for another 24hrs. No, when God called for things to be devoted, it meant they would be consumed. Devoted things were doomed to destruction for God’s sake. Utter destruction. If you don’t know about it, read for yourself the account of God’s people at Jericho. Sure, we all know the story at the moment the people shouted and blew their horns. Still, read on from Joshua 6 through Joshua 8 and you will see that the things God wanted for himself were not tidbits, but the whole deal. Now, with that in mind as the kind of “devotion” called for by the Lord of all things, what kind of study ought we give to the book He authored? I think that maybe some quiet times need to get loud. Maybe some devotions need to end in destruction! Not destruction of life but destruction of sin in me and selfish desires that ruin us all. I think that God wants our all. He’s not interested in polite religious duties as much as He is in the business of honoring hearts fully devoted (2 Chronicles 16:9) to Him.
So, now you’re done reading this. How will you end the day? Don’t smile and nod like I’ve done with reminders like this so often. Make sure that your earthy, messy life is brought to God for answers. Bring the mess to the Lord as you open the Scriptures. Ask God for help understanding that unruly child, unloving spouse, cruel friend, ridiculous boss or heartless troublemaker. Ask God to sort out the messed up heart that is yours and lead you to a new way to think about disappointment, cope with failure and love your enemies. As you go to God, bring your Bible and journal, not because it is time to repeat a tame habit, but because heart-hunger and soul-wrestling seldom go unsatisfied when we approach the Throne. Today, all who are in Christ have the opportunity to be devoted to the Lord. We can pray, we can ask, we can yearn for God with all our might! I hope that God will make of me and make of you a man/or woman fully surrendered, and fully available to Him because when we are- when we bring our all, he brings His much and that will radically change us and the world for good.