given on Sunday, October 28, 2012
A Daily Dose of Devotion
Days are so packed. We wake up in the dark right now, rush around to get out the door, and end up at work already feeling overwhelmed. Or, we wake up, stop to consider what the day will bring, begin the coffee/tea and wish we felt a bit more perky. The business of living gets in the way of our relationship with God.
Jesus tells us that we need to spend time with God. How else are we to talk with God, how do we hear God talking to us, either? How do we clear our head and let go of all the old garbage running around in our brains? The solution is a daily devotional.
Certainly that seems simple enough, but at the same time we all end up asking how do we ever put in the time for a daily devotional. Our time is already packed full. Add in something else! Preposterous. But establishing a new routine that includes some form of devotion provides benefits to our faith’s health that then influences other areas of our health—mental and physical.
How do we add in this extra? First, find a comfortable source. To begin with do not try to add in a 30-60 minute devotional time. This is a new step in your life and you want to make it work the first time. Start with a smaller devotion first.
Many of you do have a devotion you use. The Upper Room, Guideposts, or Our Daily Word are all common devotionals that provide a great introduction to the daily routine. These simple devotions take only a very few minutes to read, including a small Bible reference. A second step would be to go to the Bible and read the recommended scriptures to add further understanding.
Where do you find these small devotional readings? The Upper Room is often found right in church, but it is also available through the internet. If you google the title, you can sign up for the devotional to be delivered directly to your inbox.
Consider one of this week’s Upper Room devotions (accessed on Friday, October 27, 2012): God Is Here
Jesus said to the disciples, “Remember, I am with you always,
to the end of the age.” – Matthew 28:20 (NRSV)
It was my son’s first day in kindergarten. Before this his dad and mum had always been near, but now he was suddenly left in a noisy room with people he did not know at all. Children were crying and shouting. The teachers were trying to shout louder than all the little ones. After leaving him in the kindergarten, I immediately wanted to run back and stay with him. He was frightened and lonely, and he needed comfort. At that moment, I realized that our heavenly Father longs to be with us in a fearsome world even more than I wanted to be with my son. The most joyful news is that God is with us through the Holy Spirit, our comforter. We are not left alone in this dangerous world. Every second, with each of God’s children on earth, the Spirit is present. Having calmed down myself, I prayed that my son might also be comforted in knowing that God was beside him, even if his father and mother could not be.
The Author: Pavel Serdukov (Moscow, Russia)
Thought for the Day: Stop. Turn around. God is close.
Prayer: Dear Holy Spirit, our Comforter, bring us words of love, hope, encouragement, and comfort, especially when we feel alone and powerless. Amen.
Prayer focus: Parents of kindergartners
Another smaller devotional is the Daily Word. The reflection is available along with one simple verse. Still the internet has the devotional available any time or any where,
Listen to this example of Our Daily Word from the same day as The Upper Room’s. The prayer focus is basically the same and I find that is eerie: (accessed on Friday, October 26, 2012)
Pray for Children
I pray for children, giving thanks for God’s healing power.
As I watch children play, I enjoy their carefree energy and enthusiasm. It’s easy to see their spirit shining. If a child is experiencing a health challenge, it may be sad to see their energy dampened. But the spirit of God within each child is greater than any illness. Rather than keeping sadness and worry in mind when a child is afflicted, I follow Jesus’ example and pray.
Through affirmative prayer, I visualize things rightly. No disease or disorder has any power over a child of God. In prayer, I see the healing light and love of God flowing through all children. Spirit, mind and body respond readily to the power of the Divine. With gratitude, I see every child as healthy and whole.
Then little children were being brought to him in order that he might lay his hands on them and pray. —Matthew 19:13
Even BibleGateway.com provides a mini-devotional by including a Bible verse to consider:
Verse of the Day
“But don’t let it faze you. Stick with what you learned and believed, sure of the integrity of your teachers—why, you took in the sacred Scriptures with your mother’s milk! There’s nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God’s way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 MSG
All three of these devotionals were pulled from the internet within 30 minutes of each other. The internet is immediate, offers variety, and additional in-depth studies if you decide to pursue more about the devotional.
The Upper Room, Our Daily Word and BibleGateway are not the only internet devotional services available. Max Lucado has a website which allows you to customize your devotions. He offers a daily one or a weekly one. You can look at his various ministries and find other sources of devotions to use. You might even find a book he has written that speaks to you.
Very quickly one sees that the options are easily accessible and provide all types of variety. (On the bulletin cover I have listed four different sources to access on the internet. My favorite for a more in-depth study is The Message//Remix:Solo because it moves to the next level and incorporates the Lectio Divina style study.) And as you begin looking at Christmas gifts this year and calendars for 2013, you might like looking at all the options which incorporate a demotion for each day or try the devotional Bibles in your favorite translation.
Sometimes a small devotional sitting at your elbows can be good. For instance, this week I knew I needed a little boost at the end of the work day. I had found a small devotional titled Time-Out for Teachers. I randomly opened it up to day 239:
Before you leave work in the evening,
take time to write a to-do list for the next day.
Writing down items while they’re fresh in your mind
will help you have a better tomorrow.
I had to smile because I had started doing that this last couple of months and it did make a difference. So I looked to the other side of the page and noticed the other one, a prayer:
O Lord, sometimes we just need to escape.
In the midst of a hectic day, we can hide in You.
You are a safe place to which we can always run,
even when we cannot leave our classrooms.
What better way to end a crazy workday! Encouraged and relaxed, it was so much easier to walk away and follow the words in that small devotional—taking only about one minute to read and to absorb. A daily dose of devotion is such a positive way to improve your relationship with God.
Maybe it will be a faith-based song, or a quote about God or your faith, whatever you use to add a dose of devotion, do it. We all need it, we all need to practice this one more discipline even John Wesley has preached to his followers and yet today, in the 21st century when finding a devotion is so much easier, inexpensive, and flexible.
Most importantly, a dose of daily devotion will keep your relationship to God a priority. God may not be walking on the surface of the earth with us or we may not know when he will return. The fact is that we are all too often nonchalant about keeping an open conversation, a full relationship with God. A dose of daily devotion is the solution.
Dear Father and Counselor,
Too many times we ache for your care
and we fail to open our hearts and minds
to share with you and to listen for you.
Today we hear the prescription for the ache
a daily dose of devotion.
Guide us in finding the materials
to reconnect us with you in ways that we hear.
Strengthen our resolve to spend some time
reading your holy scripture,
sharing in other’s experiences,
and praying to release our concerns to you
as well as to hear your counsel. –Amen