Raising kids. Keeping House. Choosing joy, every day.

How Not to View Your Devotions.

Have you ever had someone tell you that their day did not go well because they had not done their devotions that morning? I have, and although I want to assume that I know what they mean, the idea that your day played out based on whether or not you read your devotions shows some misunderstandings about what devotions really are.

Is the noun “devotions” really even a good word? After all, devotions is not meant to be something we do and then check off for the day, like I did my laundry (check), fed the kids lunch (check) or I did my taxes!

Isn’t it really about a heart that is devoted? Could the root of your “bad day” be more about the fact that your heart was devoted to something other than God? You were too busy worshipping secondary things and neglecting to worship God? Were you more interested in self than serving God?

Today, I’m sharing five ways NOT to view or do your devotions.

1. You read God’s word, and learn things, but don’t apply them to your daily life.

Warning! This is the most dangerous thing you can do–gather knowledge and then not apply it to yourself.

Teachers, Ministry Wives, Missionaries: take note. If you are studying to teach others but your actions and reactions, or in your inner man, show you’re making soft choices for yourself and not applying to yourself, you are in a dangerous spiritual spot.

We’ve all heard of Doug Phillip’s resignation this past month. A man who was teaching on family life while engaging in a 10 year affair on his wife. How does that happen? It happens when you study to teach others, but fail to apply to yourself. You become the spokesperson for morality while not practicing what you preach.

It’s really pride, and blindness and hardness of heart. It’s an “I’m above the rules” mentality. It’s a finger pointing mentality. It’s not a “I desperately need God’s word in order to grow and change myself” mentality.  And it doesn’t just apply to Doug Phillips or gross moral sin. It’s there every time we teach our kids while ignoring anger in our hearts. It’s there when we teach a class, while indulging in bitterness and envy against another person in the church. It’s there when spewing “Christianique” phrases, yet covering a heart of discontent and unthankfulness. (See James 1: 21-27)

2. You think you’ll earn favor with God for “doing your devotions”. Perhaps you fail to understand your position in Christ?

3. You think that if you don’t read so many chapters or do so many minutes of devotions, the rest of your day will be affected. It’s like a magic charm, warding off negative experiences.

4. You think you are out of fellowship with God if you miss a day, and that makes you liable for punishment.

5. You read the Bible like a horoscope for the day, opening to a random passage to see what God’s going to say today. It’s kinda a spooky, random approach, but people do it. Or you view the Bible as a spiritual drugstore full of “pills” that you need to get  you through whatever ails you?

Things to remember about your “devotions”-

  • Reading God’s word without a desire to change is really futile. I’m not sure why you’d even bother? Knowledge without obedience is deadly to your spiritual life.
  • Your entire day is sacred when you are living for the Lord and dwelling on His goodness. Don’t separate in your mind your time in the word as the holy part of your day. Your entire day is holy unto the Lord whether you are doing menial work with your hands or praying.
  • The Bible is not a quick fix for our day. Reading does not guarantee a problem free life. But a heart devoted to God and His word will help you focus on the right things and respond in the right way to trials. A Godward focus is our goal.
  • Worship is our privilege and stems from a heart of love. When you don’t feel like worshipping, get into your Bible in order to change!
  • Reading and studying is essential to know the heart of God and to get wisdom. We can’t know the God we serve without the scripture!

What about you? Do you have misconceptions about doing devotions? Do you think we should get back to using word like hearing, dwelling, studying, memorizing, meditating, honoring, obeying, fearing when we speak of reading God’s word? Words that show how we respond to God’s word?