Does God Care How We Do Devotions?

Have you ever just wanted to punch someone in the face for going on and on about how wonderful their morning devotions were?

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It happens to most of us at some point. We get up with the best of intentions only to experience DGS (devotion guilt syndrome). DGS causes us to skip, or feel inadequate about our devotional time. We have heard the what, where, when and how message a million times, yet so often we choose to begin our day unequipped to face it.

Ever been there? Why does the thought of doing devotions seem so daunting to us?

·      Many simply don’t know how to go about it. After all, the thought of coming into the presence of God is an intimidating thing that you would not want to mess up.

·      Others feel like they are not properly equipped. If you are not a pastor how can you begin to understand those sixteen letter theological words and Old English phrases.

·      Some believe that devotions really do not make a difference (and they would be wrong).

·      The big one is, “I JUST DON’T HAVE TIME”, (they also would be wrong).

Just to be transparent, all the illustrations above have been true in my life at one point or another. Two quick thoughts and we will move on:

·      Work at being intentional. Set aside the time each morning (or evening). Set an alarm to get you up early or to remind you that it is time for some God time.

·      Accept the fact that there will be Devo2days that you have, Duhhhh Devotions. There will be mornings that you are exhausted, distracted or you are just not feeling it. Befaithful to push through those days. Those Duhhhh Days will often transform themselves into the best devotions.

One common question is, “What we do for devotions?”

Many people are intimidated by devotions because they feel they need four songs, a three-point message and an offering to be effective.

While everyone has an opinion about how to do devotions, in the end all that matters is that they are meaningful to us!

[bctt tweet=”Don’t develop devotions that are meaningful to others, develop something meaningful for you.” username=”michaelkduff”]

Let me share three quick devotion hacks for those with a crazy lifestyle.

1.     A Devotional Book

There are hundreds of resources out there that can spark your morning devotions. Most of us over 30 have encountered books like “Our Daily Bread” and “Days of Praise” which are still available today.

A daily devotional book that is set up for each day of the year is a great tool. I would suggest a book written in contemporary English for morning devotions because it requires less concentration on unfamiliar words. Remember, some mornings you will have the Duhhhh’s.

I am currently using Paul David Tripp’s book “New Morning Mercies“. Each day can be read in about 10 minutes and then it connects you to a related Scripture. It is an excellent resource.

2.   YouVersion

If you find yourself doing devotions on the fly (we know it happens) the YouVersion app is a valuable resource to have on your smart phone or tablet.

Devo4YouVersion provides many different Bible reading plans in many different versions of the Bible.

One added bonus is that many of the Bible versions can be listened to during drive time or at the gym. What’s wrong with strengthening body and soul at the same time?

3.     Social Media

While social media can have its negative side, it can also be a tremendous resource for devotional blogs, podcasts and webpages.

Many of these sites can set a spark that will get you into your Bible or listen to while getting ready for work.
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Some of these are “non-traditional”, but again the intent is not to develop devotions that are meaningful to others, but to develop something that works for and is meaningful for you.

Anything that will bring you closer to God on a daily basis is a great thing. The most important part of daily devotions is just doing it!

If this has been helpful to you, please share it with a friend. If you have a resource to add to the list above, please share it in the comments section of this page!

No Blood In The Strawberry Shortcake

Most of us have a favorite recipe that our Grandmother made. For me it would be chocolate cake with chocolate icing – not frosting – icing! I can still smell it sitting on the counter in the kitchen.

One of my favorite recipes to make is my Mother-In-Laws shortcake, especially during strawberry season! For the first 35 years of our marriage we tried to make this recipe, only to have it fall short every time.

Just a word of warning men, never I mean NEVER say, “It does not taste like Mom’s used to!”

SC2 (1 of 1)On a trip home a few years ago we discovered the issue, our copy of the recipe was missing an ingredient. It seems one teaspoon of baking soda can make a big difference!

One of my greatest joys as a Grandfather is cooking with my Grand kids. My oldest has been cooking with me since she sat in a car seat on the counter.

Last weekend I had the opportunity to make Grandma’s strawberry shortcake with one of my surrogate Grand kids (she adopted me)! We had a great time mixing the ingredients and preparing the recipe for the oven.

Once the batter was in the oven, the next step was to cut up the strawberries. A few quick instructions and we were slicing and dicing! After a few minutes she quietly said, “Mommy has never let me cut before.” Good information to know and time for additional instruction!

SC1 (1 of 1)A short lesson on proper cutting technique and finger preservation moved the project forward. My most important rule was, no blood in the strawberry shortcake! On a couple occasions she stopped to examine her fingers and ask if the red stuff on her fingers was strawberry or blood!

Soon the bowl was filled with perfectly cut strawberries and no finger matter. YES!

How often do we stop to consider that God finds the same kind of joy as He works in our lives? He loves doing life with His children as He gives instructions, provides the necessary resources, and helps to equip us for the next step. He finds joy in our success and gets excited as He awaits to see how the final product turns out!

Fortunately for us, God is very patient in the process. Like a Grandfather working with someone he loves, God will patiently teach us how to achieve the desired results. But we must:

  1. Follow Instructions

If we had not followed the recipe as instructed, the shortcake would not have turned out.

If Mak had not followed my instructions on how to use the knife properly, it could have resulted in stitches (and my death)!

For our lives to turn out according to God’s design, we must be willing to listen to what the Father is telling us.

Some have called the Bible, God’s Instruction Manual, but in truth the Bible is so much more than that. Christ said that His words, “Are Life!”

John 6:63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

We would be wise to listen to the words that give us life!

  1. Focus On The Task

While baking, distractions can cause use to miss or double an ingredient that can ruin the whole dish.

If you have ever lost your focus while cutting something up, you know that there can be painful consequences. And you can violate the rule of no blood in the strawberry short cake!

The calling (the task) God has given us requires our full attention. If we become distracted the end result could affect eternity.

  1. Care About What We Are Doing

As we cooked that day it was important that our culinary creation turn out right because we were excited to share our with our family.

As Christians, God has left us here with instructions to accomplish His will. The work we are doing is eternally important and it’s for His (our) family. Because of that, we need to be passionate about how we go about it. We cannot afford to just be going through the motions.

God has given us the recipe to produce the desired results. But the end result depends on how closely we follow His instructions, focus on the task and care about what we are doing!

REFLECTION:

Have you checked the instructions today?Sc3

In what area of your calling do you need to refocus?

How will you demonstrate that you care today?

If this has been helpful to you, please share it with a friend or leave a comment!

Practicing The Presence Of God

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Isaiah chapter six opens with one of the most astounding statements in Scripture as we find Isaiah is literally standing in the presence of God!

Isaiah 6:1 In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple.

Verse two quickly whisks our attention away to the details of the story.

It’s important for us to know about the wings of the seraphim, the doorposts shaking, and the smoke in the temple. It’s all too incredible!

Did we mention that Isaiah is standing in the presence of God!

The scene continues to unfold as Isaiah interacts with an angel. Again more details, was it one of the angel’s from above the throne or was it another angel, what did the coal represent theologically?

By the way, Isaiah is standing in the presence of God!

And we can’t forget some of the most recognized words in Christianity, “Who will go?” “Here am I Lord send me!”
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Oh and did we mention; Isaiah is standing in the presence of God?

We have to wonder, how many of the struggles we face in life come from the fact that we are so concerned with the details of life, that we miss the presence of God in our lives?

Are we more awestruck by the angel, the smoke and the coal, than we are with the thought of being in His presence?

We devour the theological or biblical truths to be gained, but they are useless without His presence!

The most troubling part of this story is that as Christians, we live our lives in the presence of God, yet we seldom experience His presence.

Three things from this story that can distract us from the presence of God in our lives.

1.     Our Present

Our focus on the details of Isaiah’s story should serve as a warning to us. It is very easy to get so distracted by the external circumstances of our lives, that we overlook the work that God is wanting to do within us.

It would be so much easier if God’s presence was an app we could download. But if our desire is to be in God’s presence, it will require the full attention of our presence.

We must look past our present if we are to experience God’s presence.

2.     Our Past

P2Isaiah was sure he was doomed! He understood that what came out his lips was a reflection of what was in his sinful heart. He was basically saying, “I’m a sinner! There is no way I can survive being in the presence of God!”

Our past tells us that we are not worthy to be in the presence of God, and on our own, we are not. But because of what Christ did, we are! In Christ, we have been cleansed!

Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

We don’t have to fear being in God’s presence and we never will!

3.     Our Purpose

Sometimes we don’t sense God’s presence because we are avoiding it. We don’t want to hear what God has to say.

Most of us have experienced a time when our plans and God’s plans didn’t match up. While God’s calling and purpose in our lives cannot be ignored, we can do a pretty good job of avoiding it.

So many people have used Isaiah’s response to portray a great step of faith, but if Isaiah is witnessing the power and presence of God, how else is he going to respond?

When we are aware of the power and presence of God in our lives, obedience is the natural response to that presence.

The details of that day didn’t distract Isaiah. He was focused on one thing; he was in the presence of God! It’s not difficult to pay attention at a time like that.

How many of the details in our day to day lives distract us from the presence of God that dwells within us?

Write down three things that are distracting you from His presence today. Ask God to help you set them aside for a while so that you can enjoy His presence!