Monday, April 29, 2013

recipe: devotions


A Recipe:
(for a nutritious, fresh, organic, home-made devotional time with Jesus.)

What exactly is a "devotional time", or a "daily quiet time"?

When you get together with a good friend at a local coffee shop, what is the greatest avenue to fellowship and a deepened understanding of one other?

Plain old-fashioned conversation, right?

You talk to each other. You listen to each other. You communicate with each other. This is the practical working out of a relationship.
You, of course, can be in, and even enjoy, each others' presence without ever speaking, but if such is all that ever happens, eventually you will cease growing in knowledge of one another and your relationship will become either stagnant or strained. We, as women, especially understand this, and make a point to regularly communicate with those we love.

                 God is no different. He is a Person and desires relationship, like us. However, His manner of communication is unique. Present with us invisibly, He too speaks with us. How? God is Spirit and has made us spirits as well. You don't have a spirit; you are a spirit. You have a body. As such, we have the capability to communicate spiritually with God.

How?  Through His Word, as enlightened by His Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 2:12-14 says, “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.  These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.  But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

God will apply a certain scripture or passage to our lives directly, making it “come alive” as though it was written just for us. When we receive it as such, and respond to what He has “spoken” to us, our “daily devotion” has turned into a living relationship!

There are three essential elements to a successful time in the Word. I call them The Three R’s of relational devotions:

    1. Rely (on God through prayer)
2. Read (the Bible)
3. Respond (though personal application, prayer, etc.)

          Rely:   Prayer is how you “open” the conversation, so to speak, and reading with an open heart and mind is akin to listening.
          Read:   While reading, often several verses will “speak” to you; reread the passage, or just those verses, considering which one you want to really “take home” with you that day. When you decide, write it down, word for word, in your journal.
         Respond:    After that, just write what comes to mind. You might have noticed something interesting and comment on it. It might just so perfectly apply to your day, that you describe your day and it’s pertinence. You might simply thank God for it, if it blessed you, or you might pray for its application to really begin to play itself out in your daily life.

                 This part of the devotional time is intensely personal and varies from day to day, verse to verse. It’s between God and you, and is the most precious part. I always finish with a prayer, usually written, and then close my Bible and journal and set them ready for our next meeting together.

How much should you read? That is between you and God. I make a point to read one chapter a day, no more and no less, because this is a goal I can consistently meet.
If I’m sick or traveling, or for whatever reason that I’m have an unusually difficult time getting into my reading, I will just read until I find a verse, not finishing the chapter until later. And if I miss a day or two, ...or ten? No condemnation... I just pick up where I left off the next time I open my Bible.
It may look different for you, (because you are different than me!), but I encourage you to choose one book of the Bible, and begin to read through it. If you are just starting out, you might feel that going chapter by chapter is a little overwhelming; try reading paragraph by paragraph in that case, or even just verse by verse, each day attempting to read at least a verse.

              Then I would encourage you to simply write down one verse a day that meant something to you while reading. After you have conquered this, then attempt to write something, anything, else after you write the verse.
While some of you already have the habit of daily Bible reading, the response element may be new, so here is an acronym that I have found helpful in my journaling:
S.O.A.P. (which stands for Scripture, Observation, Application, and Prayer).
While pretty self-explanatory, SOAP is basically a devotional-styled Inductive Bible Study (IBS). You begin by choosing and writing down a verse. Then you jot down any observations that come to mind in reading it, things that stand out to you, followed by a personal application of what you think it is saying. End with a prayer related to the application.
Its simple, straight forward, and extremely fruitful, from my experience. There is something for us to receive in all of scripture; let God give you something from His Word every day!

Scripture:
Observation:
Application:
Prayer:

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