Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Five Aspects of a Good Devotion Part IV

We are taking time to look at some important components or parts of a good devotional period with the Lord. A devotion time with God is very important for any disciple, or child of God. It is during this time that you have the opportunity of coming into the very presence of our God, sharing your heart with him, speaking with him, as he is speaking to you through his word.
We have looked at the first three components, which I have chosen to call Confession Communion, and Connection. You can read those posts in the archives and know what has already been said. We will now move into the fourth aspect of a devotion and that is what I call…
There are many reading plans available today. It seems everyone from organizations to churches have developed some sort of plan or method designed to read the bible through in a year. Reading is certainly better than not reading. Reading is not the end result that is of the greatest benefit to you. You must read, re-read, study, meditate, and pray through the text that you have chosen. It is now time for the word to be convicting to you.
When you come to the reading portion of your devotion, choose a book of the bible that interests you, or contains principles that you want to explore or implement into your life. I recommend that you alternate between the Old Testament and the New Testament. Once you have selected a book then slowly work through the book a paragraph at a time. It is very difficult and often unproductive to try and meditate through a chapter or two at one sitting.
As you read and re-read the paragraph, you are going to have to examine everything in that paragraph in order to answer at least three questions:
What Is Being Said?
As you are reading, you must answer this question. We call this observation. Look for repeated words or phrases, look at the nouns and verbs in the sentences and see how they relate to one another. Ask who is speaking, who is being spoken to, and what is being said. In this stage of your reading you are attempting to determine the main idea, the main thought, or the over-arching principle that has been disclosed. Once you have narrowed down the main idea or the main topic of what is being said, write it out in a single sentence. Now you can answer the second question:
What is meant by what it said?
In other words, now that you know what it says what does this paragraph mean by what it says. What are the principles that helped you define the main idea? What do we derive from what has been said? What did the author want you to understand from what he said? Here is where you pray through the text, asking God through the Holy Spirit for insight, wisdom, and understanding. Check your cross references, examine related passages, scripture will interpret itself.
By the way, resist the temptation to use a study bible for your devotion and commentaries. This is not the time to let others think for you. This process is not easy. Many times wild and unbiblical teachings and doctrines have developed out of undisciplined times of trying to find out what a paragraph says. Trust God and the Holy Spirit to reveal his word to you.
Once you have determined what it says by observation, and you have determined what it says through the principles that you developed through interpretation, and you have crossed referenced your findings you can now check with a commentary or help to determine if your findings are correct. (Sorry for the lengthy sentence.)
So, now you know what your paragraph says and you know what it means by what it says, now you move to:
What does it mean to me?
Here is where the conviction comes into the picture. What am I going to do with what I have learned? In other words, how do the truths I discovered in this passage apply to me?
You have mused over the passage, you have taken notes on what has been said, you have spoken the words of the paragraph out loud, you have contemplated/pondered over the words and you have pray the paragraph in conversation back to the Lord, what do you do now?
You can’t be the guy who looks in a mirror and sees broccoli in his teeth and never brushes the broccoli out! When you look into the word you must discover the principles that you will add to your life, the changes that must be made, or the behaviors to put on or off.
There you have it, conviction. We must begin with confession, move into communion, pray for connection and be changed through conviction. Next time, Lord willing we will conclude with a look at Consecration.

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