(Family Bible Class 28 January 2024, by Pastor Hennie)
Remember the Goal of Daily Devotion- Communion (Fellowship) with God, through our union with Christ. Our Daily Devotion forms part of attaining to our main goal, which is as our catechism puts it; “to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Our Daily Devotions help us measure our level of commitment to the worship of God. Godless living flows from godless devotions.
What is devotion? The dictionary defines devotion as love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person. A husband ought to be devoted to his wife and a wife to her husband. If there is no mutual devotion the marriage relationship suffers. The word “devotional” simply refers to the means (help or aid) of cultivating that love, loyalty and enthusiasm. Christian devotional reading and meditating is for cultivating love, loyalty and enthusiasm for the Person of God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).
Our aim is not to fill our heads with intellectual knowledge, but to engage with the Person and Work of God through His Word. How then can we do this?
Well just as we need the supernatural grace of the Holy Spirit with us, so we need the Word of God. We cannot develop love, loyalty and enthusiasm when we never listen to God’s word. Remember Isaiah 55:8-9 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. We will never grow in love, loyalty and devotion for God when we put ourselves first. Do not fall into the temptation to make devotional time all about you. Then you are cultivating love, loyalty and enthusiasm for yourself and expecting God to revolve around you as the center of your own universe.
We must recover the necessary virtue of listening. We want to hear God’s thoughts and seek his ways. God has made his thoughts and ways clear in His Word. God is not silent on these important matters, but has spoken openly and recorded His words in the Bible.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
Just as your vocal cords move by your breath to make the sound of your voice and utter words, so the Scripture is God breathed to make known the voice of God. As someone wisely said: “If you want to hear God’s word audibly, read your Bible out loud.” We must underline the fact that God does not speak contrary to His own revealed Word. There is a remarkable integrity in the Word of God, reflecting the integrity of God Himself.
2 Timothy 3:16 helps us to see the necessity of God’s breathed out word. As God breathed life into Adam, so God is breathing life into us, by His breathed-out Word. If God’s Word is His outward breath, then our listening is like breathing in the breath of God. That is why there is a very close connection between the Word of God and the Spirit of God, and there is an integrity (unity and undividedness) between the Holy Spirit and God’s Word.
Paul tells Timothy that God’s word is profitable (useful, valuable, beneficial) for,
2. reproof - rebuke or warning (Stop doing, stop saying or stay away from…),
3. correction- (rather do, rather say or rather seek…),
4. and training in righteousness (continual process of learn to put off and put on)
When Timothy uses the Word of God for these things, Paul says Timothy (the man of God) will be
Competent (adequately prepared, perfectly ready, lacking nothing), because he has been fully equipped (HELPS Word studies says - Indeed the Bible thoroughly fits "furnishes" each believer to live in full communion with God). The Bible is enough to make the man of God ready for every good work (not just some good works, but EVERY good work).
What more do we need to live godly lives? Paul affirms that Scripture, which is God’s breathed out word, alone is sufficient for godly living. Without the Word of God there is no Christian living. If we “need” anything else, we are saying that God has not provided sufficiently for Christian Living. God has given us life through His breathed-out Word! There is no other source to the Christian Life.
1 Corinthians 15:45 Thus it is written, “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit.
John 20:22 And when he (Jesus) had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
Just as we need breath to live, we also need food. God teaches us in the same way that His Word is like food to our soul. Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:3 & Matthew 4:4). Just as our bodies cannot live without oxygen or food, so our soul cannot live without the Word of God.
Now that we have established the necessity for daily devotions, you must commit yourself to a healthy diet and good breathing routine. What follows is a suggestive outline for beginners. May you grow in the Grace and Knowledge of Christ as you commit yourself to Christian Living. Here are some practical steps to help cultivate a habit of regular devotion.
1. Set aside 20-30 min each morning. Put away all distractions. Wake up early. It is important to begin our day by devoting ourself to God. We want to cultivate love, loyalty and enthusiasm. There is no use in stirring ourself up in devotion if we are just going to sleep right after.
2. Pray that God would meet with you. This does not have to be a long time of wrestling with your inner self, you want to be serious about listening to God. You do not want to dominate the conversation. You want God to lead you. This prayer then is focused on sincerely submitting yourself to the Lord and on bringing your whole heart before Him. God, through His Word, will reveal some things about your own heart that are hidden from your sight. He will show you some of the darkness and sins that you have hidden from yourself. He does so that you may repent and grow in holiness. Entrust yourself to Him.
3. If you are just starting out, I suggest you read one of the Gospels (John is very helpful since, the aim of the book is for the readers to believe. The letters of John are also very helpful. It would be unwise to start with Revelation or an OT prophetic book. Work your way up. Don’t dive into the deep end if you haven’t learned to swim.)
4. Keep track of your progress. This will help you look back in a couple of weeks and be filled with thankfulness as you see the growth that God has worked through your diligence.
Passage read: _____________
What does the passage teach about God? (reference the verse)
Holy Spirit: ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
What does the passage teach about man:
Does the text highlight some of the thoughts or behaviours that God is calling us to put off? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
Does the text highlight some of the thoughts or behaviours that God is calling us to put on?
1. Thankfulness for what you have learned. Express your joy and thankfulness to God for what He has revealed to you.
2. Repentance - (Putt off: Express what sin or ungodly behavior you will specifically focus on in putting off and commit yourself to it.)
One thing I am going to concentrate on putting off this week is: _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
(Tip: When it is a sin or behavior that is more deeply ingrained, take some extra time to prepare and plan for rooting it out. You may want to prepare yourself to avoid certain temptations in order to succeed.)
3. Faith - (Putt on: Express what you will specifically aim in putting on in the place of this sin or ungodly behavior. Commit yourself to be holy as God is Holy. Spend some time thinking about God’s Holy Character and how you can be more like Him. We do not simply want to be better; we want to grow in holiness)
One thing I am going to focus on putting on this week is:
4. Reflect on the changes that God has worked over the past couple of weeks. Evaluate your progress in putting off sin and ungodliness and in putting on holiness and righteousness. (Be encouraged when God shows you the deep roots of sin and be dependent upon Him when committing yourself to holiness. Your sins are going to be harder to put off than you think and you are going to struggle to put on holiness and righteousness. Be diligent and don’t give up, keep the faith. Hebrews 11:6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who diligently seek him.