Thoughts on My Devotions (Part 3)
I believe that it is imperative that you record what you have gleaned from the scriptures and what you have come to know. Do not trust your memory. A great problem with bible reading is that many people may in fact read a portion of scripture, but if you ask them two or three days later what the read, they can not tell you. Kent Matsueda once said, “A short pencil is better than a long memory.”
So, I use a Pen Gear Journal. It is simulated leather (not expensive), it is approximately 7” x 9” (manageable), it has ruled lines on each page, there are 192 pages. These journals are typically sold by Wal-Mart. I have found they are more available for online ordering through Walmart’s site than they are stocked in the actual stores. I usually order 3-5 at a time. I have been using them in my personal devotions for several years.
I use two pages – one across from the other – for each day of my devotion. On the opening page of the cover, I write my name, the date of the first entry, and then when I have filled the pages, on the third and final line I write the date of the last entry.
First – I use the journal to record what I gleaned from my mediation on my paragraph.
• I write the date in the upper left corner of the page, and I write the day of the week in the center of the page
• I then write and underline the word Scripture: Naturally, I write the scripture reference of the particular passage I am meditating through
• I then write two lines down the word Observation:
o It is here I began to record the info “requested by the Seven S’
• I record questions I may have or that have arisen, I record principles I see, problems that are addressed, solutions to those problems, impressions from my heart (careful), the text will never say or mean anything that it did not say or mean to the original recipients. (There is no special or hidden meaning just for you!) I record any observation that I think is germane to the material under glass.
o What is the primary emphasis of the passage?
o Who are the main characters in the passage?
o What are the key words of the passage?
o What is the key verse of the passage?
o How does the main emphasis of the passage relate to my Christian life?
o Is there anything that speaks to or addresses the Christian life?
• I write the word Application: a couple of lines after my last entry. (By this time, I have filled the first page (which is actually the second page in the journal, the first page is a single page) and I move right across the spine to the adjoining page and continue recording my thoughts on application. I ask the passage and the Holy Spirit for the meaning and the application for the original recipients and for myself. I am looking to answer to questions: 1) What does God want me to Believe as a result of discovering the meaning of this passage and 2) How does God want me to Behave as a result of wrestling with and meditating through this passage. Ask and answer the following questions:
o What is the main idea?
o What should I know about this idea?
o What don’t I know about this idea?
o Am I practicing/living out the truth of the main idea?
o What do I need to do – not do – in order to comply with this truth?
o What timeless biblical principles are derived from this passage?
o Are there current errors in my belief or behavior exposed by this passage?
o What changes do I need to make?
• After making the application to my life from this passage, I write the word Prayer. I write out a short prayer of adoration, confession, thanksgiving, and supplication to God for the truth exposed by the passage and for enablement in implementing the application to my life.
o Pray for enable to apply the truth gleaned from the passage
o Pray for strength to resist the devil and to withstand the fiery darts of Satan
o Pray for the Holy Spirit to remind you throughout the day of the main point of the passage and the application peculiar to you.
o Pray for opportunities to share what you have learned with someone else.
Second - Yes, my devotion takes approximately 60 to 75 minutes each morning. I say each morning, I usually don’t have a devotion on Saturday morning. That is my day to sleep in, have a late breakfast, and then run errands for and with my wife.
• No, God will not reach down with a big stick with a thumb-tac on the end and thump you one.
• This is not a Pharisaical, legalistic demand that makes or breaks you. God will not be displeased with you, disappointed in you, nor will he discipline you if you miss a morning now and then.
• But forget the 5- or 7-minute devotion, and ignore the pleas from those who plead with you to commit to a 15-minute devotion. Sometimes, but not as a rule or habit, you may only get 15 minutes or so – reading a paragraph will not hurt you, but only help you.
But to grow in the grace and knowledge of God, to develop a deep and intimate relationship with God realize it takes time. You can find an hour or so if you desire it.