I read an article this week that was of particular blessing to me. The title of the article was “The Joy of an Unaccomplished Life,” written by Chad Bird. Basically, the article talks about the cultural pressure to excel and achieve and how easy it is to fall into that mentality. On the other hand, Bird mentioned 1 Thessalonians 4:11, which says, “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life.” Bird says, “[That] doesn’t mean we lower our expectations; it means we lower our eyes…rather than gaping upward at the next trophy we’ll win, the next raise we’ll earn, we look beside us at the people whom God has placed in our lives for us to serve.” Rather than looking and striving for the next big thing, we find our joy in the One who is the same yesterday, today, and forever, the One who comes to us in the form of a tiny baby and a crucified Messiah, the One who “sanctifies our same old lives with his same old love the His same old Spirit.” We find Christ’s joy and love in seemingly mundane and most unexpected places!
Devotional life has been on my mind a lot lately. Bird’s article refreshed and comforted my soul, and I wanted to share that with you! Our souls need to be fed by God’s Word and the study of it. A common question to ask is “How is your devotional life?” I remember that question was always asked on FLY Youth Convention counselor applications. In the years I oversaw that application process, I read hundreds of answers, many of which sounded something like this, “My devotional life is up and down, and so it could be better.” When I read those answers, I often chuckled to myself, because it’s hard to know what that even means. I also felt sad for those people, because many of them made it sound like doing devotions was like pulling teeth or burdensome in some way. Even worse, some made their Christian status dependent on their devotional life.
A similar common question is “How is your walk with the Lord?” I heard one person reply to that recently by saying, “By grace through faith.” I was so thankful for that response! When we hear questions asking about our devotional life or our walk with the Lord, it’s so easy for our natures to immediately answer with what we are, or aren’t, doing. Friends, your walk with the Lord is not defined by how good you do “Christian” things. Your identity as a Christian remains intimately tied to Christ on the day you are saved and each day of your walk with Him! As Paul freely declares in I Corinthians 15:10, “By the grace of God I am what I am.”
We are “children of promise,” we are sons and daughters of the Most High because God is good to us! So when it comes to something like regular devotional time with God, we should make that a priority, not so that we can prove our “Christianness,” or just because that’s what good Christians are supposed to do, but rather because it’s time spent with our gracious Father in Heaven. Time in God’s Word nourishes our hungry souls. And when you miss that time, or it seems mundane, thank the Lord for His grace, and ask Him to help you. If you haven’t typically had regular devotions or are looking for something new, here are a few ideas. If you have questions or would like recommendations for any of these, please ask!
- Read through the Bible in a year. There are lots of reading plans out there that a simple Google search will find. If you’ve never done that and would like to start smaller, I recommend a New Testament reading plan. You can usually get through the entire New Testament in a few months, reading one or two chapters per day.
- Every three months in your boxes at church, there is a small booklet called “Our Daily Bread.” Those are short articles on different Bible verses for each day. They take one or two minutes to read. There is also a free “Our Daily Bread” app that you can download on your phone. It’s very convenient!
- There are many wonderful online blogs. The article by Chad Bird was found on thegospelcoalition.org. I’d love to point you to other great websites!
- Many authors have written devotionals for every day of the year and compiled them into one book. I have several examples in my office, so feel free to come and check them out sometime!