How to get the MOST out of your Devotions!

Tuesday I did a video interview with Dr Allan Meyer (CEO Careforce Life Keys) and towards the end of the interview I asked him about his devotional life. I have often asked this question of several leaders, as an individuals devotional life is of a real interest to me.

Whilst I know that my own performance doesn’t earn me any brownie points with God, I do have a deep desire and conviction that spending time with Jesus on a daily basis is fundamental to everything called LIFE.

Allan gave an interesting insight into his own journey with devotions and identified the need for an upgrade in his current devotional life. He commented on the seasons of intensified prayer that lasted 7 years post a visit to Yonggi Cho’s praying church in Seoul, Korea. He reflected on the impact of his son’s poor life choices on his devotional life and how it was brought to a standstill by his anger and confusion with his sons behaviour. He reflected on the SOAP method of devotions (Journalling through Scripture, Observation, Application and Prayer). Allan’s response to my question was very revealing and very helpful.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

It’s unique – How you connect with God will be different to how others connect with God. While, I think, there are some fundamental keys to knowing God better, we are all wired up in different ways and will express our worship and love for God accordingly.

It’s seasonal – How you engage with God in one season might be different to how you connect with him in another season. Rather than building a tradition that is inflexible, build a lifestyle of intimacy that reflects what God is doing in you in each season of your life.

It requires a daily appointment – You can connect with God anywhere at anytime but I have observed and found for myself that If I schedule it in my diary, it is far more likely to happen than if I simply hope or wish for it to happen. For me I get up early each morning, because I am more of an morning person and I spend a couple of hours meeting with God.

It could look something like the following – Reading through a daily bible reading plan or a book of the bible, praying what’s on your heart, prayer walking, worshipping God while listening to music, watching or listening to a sermon podcast, reading a book that compliments your bible reading, viewing blogs and articles that point you toward Jesus, meditating on one verse of the bible for an extended period of time and then sitting in silence and allowing God to speak to you out of it… The possibilities are endless, however, I would suggest that the foundation of whatever you do is built on a daily dose of Scripture and prayer.

It will occasionally need an upgrade – Anything we do can become stale if we don’t continually pay attention to it. What served you well last year, might not serve you well this year. Don’t be content to go through the motions but refresh your devotional life and ask God to give you an upgrade in your intimacy with him.

It must focus on Jesus – The hero of the story is Jesus. Anything that brings you closer to Jesus and connects your heart to his and refocuses your mind on him is worthy of pursuing. The Holy Spirit guides us into the way, the truth and the life of Jesus.

Grace!

God’s Goal isn’t your Happiness!

I recently did a video interview with Dr Allan Meyer (CEO Careforce Life Keys) and I asked him a question about some of the critical issues facing the western church at the present time. In his excellent response, he reflected on the current focus of many Christians and much preaching being the goal of an individuals personal happiness, rather than following Jesus Christ.

As I have reflected on this many times in my own preaching ministry, I think about Jesus’ words in John 10:10 “The devil comes to steal, kill and destroy but I have come that you may have life and have it in all of its’ fulness.” Unfortunately, some of us have wrongly mis-interpreted this verse through our western context and concluded that God’s goal for us is our happiness, which surely must mean, health, wealth and prosperity… Ah, NOT!

As I read the Scriptures, I don’t find the emphasis of my personal comfort being consistent with the biblical account of Jesus’ life or the Apostle Paul’s life or any of the other apostle’s life, for that matter, as is recorded in the New Testament. Money, success and well-being are all gifts from God and should be stewarded accordingly but God’s goal for me isn’t the obtaining of these things, alone. Me becoming more and more like him is his goal and this can be accomplished through a variety of circumstances and dare I say it, is often accomplished rather well through suffering.

The joy of the Lord is my strength but God’s joy is available whatever I am facing or going through, not just when things are going my way. As preachers, our goal should be to be faithful to the text and expose what the text is simply declaring in the most compelling way possible, not to proselytize people to a mirage of false hope.  As pastors, our goal should be to lead people into Christ-likeness and a biblically based worldview that equips them to grow in spiritual maturity and gospel grace, not to encourage growth in spiritual immaturity.

Churches that promise happiness and bliss to their congregation alone, if they follow Jesus and perform for him are setting people up for massive disillusionment. Following Jesus in the real world does fill me with joy but sometimes I do face circumstances that are quite the opposite of happy. When a close family member of mine attempted suicide in 2001, I wasn’t happy. When I didn’t get the outcome I was hoping for as a budding athlete, I didn’t feel warm, happy fuzzies. When I get criticized and ostracized by others for my faith in Jesus and commitment to my calling, I don’t necessarily feel happy but my joy in Christ remains intact.

What’s your goal in life? If happiness is your goal, then you will live a misdirected and self-pre-occupied life but if God’s goal of Christ-likeness and knowing him is your goal then you will live life on purpose. Refuse to settle for anything less.

Grace! (Video Interview will be uploaded very soon)