Do You Ever Skip Devotions?
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. Psalm 1:1-3
Personal devotions are, for me, a time when I leave the world behind, everything that troubles me for the day. It is a time when I go before my Lord and Saviour and worship in private; it is where I talk with God in prayer and meditation on His Word. Be it only for 5 or 10 minutes or an hour, it is a time that I treasure and look forward to each day. Yesterday, I completely forgot to have personal devotions. It was such a busy day that I totally forgot… granted, it was Sunday and I heard sermons, and joined together with other believers in fellowship – so maybe I can forgive myself. BUT If you have been where I have been, and know the grace of our Father through Jesus, then you want to meet your redeemer in private at least once per day, to thank him yet again for the sacrifice he gave, to ask for the forgiveness of your sins, to seek the spirit, to keep growing in the spirit. There is nothing sweeter than the time spent in personal devotions.
I have been blessed by God’s mercy, restored in the faith and I have been growing steadily since I was called back to repentance by the grace of God. Seeing how I once regressed in faith and turned my back on God (after I was on fire for him as young adult) I often ask – how do I prevent from becoming stagnant again? I do not want to become apathetic in my spiritual walk ever again! For me, missing even one day of devotions is not a good thing. I see some of the young people in our church who are on fire for God, active in their pursuits for Christ, be it political activism, helping the needy, prolife rallies, bible study and so on – and my heart rejoices in this! At the risk of sounding pessimistic – I was there when I was 18-19-20 years old, but I let my devotions slip. I let compromise enter my life, and I spent the better part of a decade regressing in faith to the point where I was an infant in the faith:
We have much to say about this, but it is hard to make it clear to you because you no longer try to understand. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Hebrews 5:11-14
I am thankful that God saw fit to bring me back, so I can eat the “Solid food” again. I don’t want any of you to go through this suffering that I had to endure! Some of my readers, friends and family have asked me questions like – “How do I continue to grow in faith when life is so busy?” “I still believe in God but I stopped caring. How do I get back to growing in my spiritual life?” “How can I prevent from backsliding in my walk with Christ?”
I am glad that we are asking these questions. If you did not care about your spiritual welfare, then there would be real cause for concern. With that said – complacency can still set in. You know how it goes… you work some OT, and when you get home you fall asleep on the couch, the kids are all over you…you ache, you struggle in to bed without doing devotions. “It’s no big deal; it is just one day…YAWN…” Work is so busy, or you are not feeling well and you forget to meditate on the bible for a few days and the only prayer you get in is your quick mealtime prayer, while struggling to keep the kids quiet, you utter a half angry “AMEN” just to make the kids be quiet and to get on with the evening. This pattern persists for a week or two. Maybe we go a few weeks without praying at all…and it begins…the slow regression of our faith. That “slow fade” I spoke about previously.
It may seem, sometimes, that our Spiritual growth has stalled and has become stagnant. Our Spiritual growth can move at different speeds, and like a marriage or friendship, it can have an ebb and flow. Sometimes we move ahead in our faith with speed like a thunderous river of whitewater crashing through the canyon, like how I feel right now (except for missing yesterday J ). And at other times can feel like your growth is moving slower than molasses in winter time, like when I was first called back to repentance some years ago. It was a slow process of baby food, and baby steps!
You may feel stagnant, but if Christ is in you, and you in Him, then you will move ahead, even if it feels like you are not! When we need to “worry” about our walk, and it is at this time when we tend to ignore it, is when there is no evidence of any growth at all – or perhaps there are even obvious signs of deterioration in our spiritual growth. It is at this time we need to examine ourselves to see if we’re in Christ. Why? Because when the Spirit of Christ indwells a person, he will not allow complete stagnation or regression. He will let you suffer, he will let you endure the consequences of your sin, but you will never entirely lose faith.
If we want to increase our spiritual growth, we need to be a disciple of Jesus. To be a disciple means to be a student. That doesn’t mean only memorizing the confessions, or piling up head knowledge – although these things are important. No. The word discipleship is akin to the word discipline. Spiritual growth requires spiritual discipline. You won’t grow simply by wishing to grow. No one ever became a professional athlete just because he wanted to. He had to practice, day in and day out, and he had to be devoted. It took blood, sweat and tears. It took discipline! No one ever attained a master’s degree by ignoring their studies and hoping to pass – just ask our ministers how much discipline it took to obtain an MDiv!
I have learned that spiritual discipline doesn’t happen overnight or without training. I had to seek out the help of someone more mature in the faith than I, in order to learn the ways of Spiritual discipline. If you are having trouble growing (or worse if you are regressing), run as fast as you can and get into a bible study group, or find an accountability partner or talk to your pastor, elder or a brother or sister who is more mature in the faith – whatever you can do, whoever you can talk with, prayerfully and quickly find that place where you can learn the basics of spiritual discipline.
Finally, if you are married, you know you must be disciplined in order to see growth in your marriage. If you never communicate you won’t grow. If you work too much and only see each other on Sundays you won’t grow. If you don’t set time apart to look deep in each other’s eyes, you won’t grow. If you don’t admit your faults and shortcomings to each other, you won’t grow. If you don’t know your spouse, your marriage won’t grow. It takes discipline and it takes love to make a marriage grow. The same goes for your spiritual growth in Christ.
I am going to go read now. I think I will focus on the text at the end. What about you?
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.