A Weekend Retreat
This weekend I had the incredible opportunity to go on a retreat with the young adults at my Church. Not only was it great to get away from the city and enjoy being with good friends at the beautiful, snow-covered Camp Nakamun, it was a profound time in which God was truly meeting with His people as they celebrated His goodness through worship, opened themselves up through prayer, reflection, and scripture, and enjoyed the freedom and joy that comes from being in community.
A Life Devoted to the Word of God
Our group was focussing on practicing spiritual disciplines and they asked me to give a bit of a “discussion/sermon” on devotionally engaging with the word of God. Not only is this something that I am quite passionate about, it is something that has the potential to make a great deal of difference in the lives of people who put it into practice. I spent a great deal of time working on this, and I decided that it would be a good entry for my blog! Rather than making one irregularly long post, I am going to do a mini-series with the different sections of the sermon every couple of days for the next week. Be sure to check back every few days and I will be adding more aspects of the sermon on my website.
Flipping the Idea of Devotions on it’s Head…
The whole purpose of this talk was to help people there understand how important the scriptures really are. I began by asking those present what they thought when they heard the word scripture… unsurprisingly some of the answers I received illuminated the fact that many are a little overwhelmed by the Bible, particularly in understanding it and knowing exactly how it is applicable (especially certain books in the Old Testament).
After asking about scripture, I turned the topic to that of devotions: “How does the word ‘devotions’ make you feel?” Again, the answers centred around “I wish I did them more,” and “feels like a checklist.” Why is this often what comes to mind when we think of the word of God? The people in my group were/are very well-meaning and passionate followers of Christ who legitimately long to grow in relationship with Him. I believe that their reflections on the questions I asked are much more common and, sadly, one of the issues that will need to be remedied in order for people to grow as disciples. People need a vision for the word of God! It needs to become more and more of a priority if you want any power in ministry or any sustainability in trials!
This section is sub-titled “flipping the idea of devotions on it’s head.” I believe that we have a very poor view of what it means to approach scripture devotionally. Often we think of ‘having devotions’ or setting aside a specific time every day that we will spend in the word and ‘check off our list.’ While there is nothing wrong with continuity in our schedules, if this is the limit of the power of God and soaking in the word in our lives, this simply is not enough. Paul Washer (in this sermon) preaches on how the relationship between a husband and wife is so much more that simply that of 14 minutes a day. There is constant communication between a man and his wife… It’s not like I will lock Kirsten, my wife, in a closet, take here out for 15 minutes a day, most days, hang out with her, and then lock her back in a closet! This is complete lunacy! Many people, though, when they think of devotions, think of this as their time being spent with God and time apart from that as time without God… God is constantly present and desires to be in an intimate relationship with us, even more intimate than that between a husband and wife, 15 minutes a day can not be enough!
Living a Devotional Life
I would like to propose that as believers we should not live a life where we do devotions, we live a devotional life which is fuelled by the word of God. If this is our posture before the word, all of our lives become that which we want to give in response to God and experience in relationship to God (and in our relationship with God). I am not saying that devotions are important, but what I am saying is that we need to see our time specifically set apart to be with God as fuel for a full life lived with God.
I do not want you to feel guilty that you don’t read the Bible enough, but what I do want is for the Holy Spirit to give you a vision for the power and beauty of the word of God, so that you can make the decision to have scripture inform all of your life, not just 15 minutes a day.
Take a moment to reflect on your posture towards the scriptures and your attitude towards devotions. Ask yourself (with the guidance of Holy Spirit) if you need to change your attitude? How do you view devotions? Has reading the Bible become a check-list? Is my time in scripture truly igniting my inner life? Am I being transformed by the word of God?
The passage that this subject is loosely based on is Romans 12:2: Do not be conformed any longer to the patterns of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Do not conform… be transformed. Paul’s command to the Romans speaks to each of us today, that we are to be transformed. So many want to be transformed and I believe that the word of God is one of the ways the Holy Spirit uses to ignite true transformation in true disciples. Please join me on this little journey!
What’s Coming Up
The rest of this mini-series is going to explore a vision for the word of God, different misconceptions that we can have about God’s word, different ways that we can approach the scripture, and how to make an action plan so that this is more than just a good blog read!
I will pray that God will be transforming your heart as You seek Him in the word.