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A Christian without a Bible: the Heart of Devotions

18 Apr

I ran across this quote today,

‘The man who doesn’t read good books

has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.’

-Mark Twain

A thought struck me.  In the same way,

The Christian who doesn’t read the Bible

has no advantage over one without Scripture translated in their language.

DSC_6432

The Slovenian translation of Hebrews 4:12 “For the Word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

If I leave my thought here, I will most likely only be heaping feelings of guilt upon you.  I understand that many who read this today may have not yet sat with their Bible in their lap.  Those who have, are resisting a smug false-piety for having passed this unexpected test.

The ability to read and own books is new on the stage of history.  It is fascinating to consider Elijah, Daniel, Peter, (even the Bereans!) and others.  They lived powerful, godly lives without having 21st century devotions. They did not get up and read and pray, they probably only prayed.  It wasn’t until well after Gutenberg for the present concept of devotions to become even a POSSIBILITY.

There was a season in my life when I had five little ones under the age of seven.  I languished under a sense of guilt for not getting up before them to read and pray!  How I struggled!  I felt guilty for not executing a practice that I thought was not only beneficial-but ESSENTIAL. I assumed I was failing in some way.  In truth, I was just an exhausted Mother who was largely incapable of putting more into her schedule.

It took a few years for me to come to a sense of peace in this situation.  It was only after I noticed a vibrant habit of mine of converting every thought to a spiritual one that the guilt subsided.   As I brushed up against Scriptures from various places, and met with deeper thoughts, I would meditate upon them until a new one came along.  Often, something would strike me profoundly and when I finally had a moment to myself, I would study it further. I realized I WAS having devotions, I was just doing them unconventionally.

It is better by far I think, to consider devotions as the ongoing, deliberate act of meditating on God’s Word.

The sitting down and reading is not the crucial part.  More is gained if one walks throughout their day, brushing against the Word wherever they go, and relating all they encounter to the truths they have internalized.  The transforming element is the meditation of what is before you at any given time, not the habit, albeit good and beneficial, of opening to the reading for that day.  I can say with all honesty that I have gained more from this habit than from reading at prescribed times.  I am not dismissing the importance of habitual reading, only elevating constant meditation above it.

(I am not speaking of studying the Scriptures.  This is different from devotions. We need to frequently compare our thoughts with the truths in Scripture; this requires concentrated exploration of the Bible to find truth. This is not the same as ‘devotions’ as it is commonly practiced.)

Exposure to His Word can come from many things, in many ways… in my experience, being exposed and prompted to dwell upon God’s precepts is what is critical, not the habit of reading.  A foolish person will neglect the habit all together and then lament the slowness of his Christianity to produce fruit.  A deluded person will religiously sit each morning reading yet have the same fate as the first if they do not continue to meditate upon what they have read when they close the book.

The heart of devotions, is hearing the Word and putting it into practice…it is hearing, however that may be, and then staying focused on it to carry it out.  Productive devotions are the moments we spend responding more to our inner reality than that of the worldly circumstance we are in.    Devotions are not an act, it is a state of being, grounded on the truth we have heard.

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13 Comments

Posted by on April 18, 2013 in Spiritual Growth

 

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13 responses to “A Christian without a Bible: the Heart of Devotions

  1. justhappeneduponthis

    April 18, 2013 at 2:53 am

    Outrageous in this Society but true. Meditation is a tall order for the rushed Church. They would rather take five minutes with “The Busy Man’s Bible” and consider their duty done. This is not a love response; this is not holiness. I can hear Jesus saying “Will ye not watch with me one hour?” (Gethsemane)

     
    • Kris

      April 18, 2013 at 3:12 am

      Oh, I wish it were not true, but there have been times I have fallen in such a state!

      I try to be careful to differentiate between the ‘categories’ of church. There are, as you know, categories. We are all on a journey, some starting out, some stumbling along the way, some seasoned and able to lend a hand. There are others who play to Jesus, not really of the church, but they are who generally receive much of our attention. It is with them in focus that we often feel contempt for the whole lot. May it never be! The bride is beautiful and growing.

      Your zeal is lovely, as is your blog. Your poetry resonates strongly with my own heart.

       
  2. moozannsmind

    April 24, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    Well said. Well thought out. It is easy to heap condemnation upon yourself. Listen to the heart of God. He will lead you to Him.

     
  3. spiritministries

    April 26, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Blessings,

    Great idea, well worded. Brought inspiration to me and wisdom. You have a great blog here, as well as your heart. Your words touched mine deeply. Thank you. When given the opportunity you should stroll through my blog. God bless.

     
    • Kris

      April 26, 2013 at 2:23 pm

      I did stop by your blog and it was well worth my time. It is a pleasure to run into a kindred spirit and I look forward to running into you more! Blessings.

       
      • spiritministries

        April 26, 2013 at 7:29 pm

        Awesome, I receive that in faith for I am a servant of the most high God:) It has been a blessing from above for me as well.

        And we know God causes all things to work together for the good, for those who love Him, and are called according to His purpose. Romans 8:28

        God bless

         
  4. wordhaver

    April 30, 2013 at 12:29 am

    Well said, Kris. I’ve been struck by the reality for some time that our possession of books is a very new development, and that, while a blessing in so many ways, it also has made us quite lazy. So easy to convince ourselves that we are believers as we carry Bibles in our hands, when through the ages the Message has always had to be carried in the heart because there were no books to take and read. It’s what I loved about the film Book of Eli – Eli WAS the book.

     
    • Kris

      April 30, 2013 at 12:54 am

      I have never run across the Book of Eli, but if you suggest it, I’ll need to make an effort and check it out. I tried to leave a comment on your last post but after ten minutes gave up. Suffice to say, C.S. Lewis and A.W Tozer have both had a say in how I view ‘becoming inspired’ with what to write. Lewis was largely dependent on ideas coming to him (nod to God) and he felt when they stopped, so would he. Tozer relied on reading heavily before he sat with a pen and after closing the books felt a myriad of ideas come to him. Two different approaches. Both used by God in big ways.

       
      • wordhaver

        April 30, 2013 at 7:13 am

        Book of Eli is gritty. The texture and violence of the much of it (it’s a post-apocalyptic setting) had the feel of the book of Judges, but the ending is pure light for me. Few films have made me want to READ more…plus I love Denzel Washington in just about anything he does. 🙂

         
  5. LovedOne

    May 5, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    I can relate to this now having a 17 month old boy (we are foster parents) and things have changed tremendously for us in the past 6 months. God has taught me to focus on relationship with Him vs jus doing out of routine. The book that shifted my perspective on this topic is The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence.
    Blessings, Edith

     
    • Kris

      May 5, 2013 at 3:58 pm

      Edith, what a special way to serve those in distress! A toddler is a handful and I can imagine how much the addition of this young boy to your family has changed your lives. I have never read any of Brother Lawerence’s works but have heard snipets of his thoughts through the years. Currently I am reading a book by Francis Schaeffer and another by Teresa of Avila, but I think I will put his in the queue. I am intrigued with his ability to internalize what he believed about menial tasks…as a caretaker of a young one, I’m sure that is inspiring to you as well! Thanks for stopping by!

       
  6. Chuck Farley

    May 28, 2013 at 11:24 am

    Kris,
    Fantastic word!
    I am a father of 7 and also had 5 preschoolers at one time. I was in the Navy and we were stationed away from friends and family. Like you, we found finding time for traditional devotionals nearly impossible, but realized after time that God had a way of giving us intimate times with Him brought about by the very blessings that kept us so busy. For me, putting the kids to bed was a time of worship and prayer, questions and answers, and learning how to be a son, while learning to be a father. My insecurities as a Dad and as a husband drove me to my Father. He opened scripture to me at just the right times (in the car, on watch, and even while singing and dancing with my children. I think devotion is an open heart condition and not so much the discipline that we have made it. Now that I am older, “wiser” and those 5 preschoolers in my life are grandchildren, I do not feel that constant daily “need” for Him, Maintaining that “open heart” condition does require discipline and effort.

    Blessings, Thanks for stopping by my page.

    Chuck

     
    • Kris

      May 28, 2013 at 4:14 pm

      Chuck,
      Thank you for taking the time to comment with your thoughts. I think your last thought should be repeated. The circumstances we find ourselves in often dictates our sense of desperation for God and when life’s scenario’s change, I have found that our habits to maintain spiritual health must too. When the ‘waters’ become calm and the need seems to be absent, one does need to make more effort to keep the reality of their desperation and hope in front of them…since issues are not ‘in our face’ during these calm times we need to read more (or become exposed more) to confront ourselves with issues we don’t perceive. If our minds/hearts find little to meditate on, we need to become exposed to more so our thoughts stay focused on God.

      I look forward to reading more of your thoughts on your blog! Thank you for stopping by and encouraging me.

       

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