Daily Devotionals: potentially instructive, potentially destructive.
Isn’t it interesting what the Lord uses in our lives to speak to us? He speaks through His Word, He ministers to us through teaching, poetry, testimonies, music, His creation; He works in us through joys and sorrows, hardships, grief, loss, trials, and countless other ways. He blesses us with all of these things — though we often miss seeing His signature it at the time. He blesses us with all these things — if we’ll receive them with that recognition.
Do you have or read a daily devotional? I’ve had mixed opinions about devotionals through the years — generally bcz I read them for a few days and then encounter an entry that’s ‘off’ or is doctrinally unsound. Sometimes I keep reading to see if it was just me misinterpreting the text that particular day — but, more often than not, with more recently published devotional books, I’ve seen error. I then resort to my default: Just read the Word. Stay in the Word. And then another devotional will come along – another book will come to me highly recommended and I go through the same exercise of starting the process and ending it at some questionable entry. It usually doesn’t take long to pick out the error.
The hard part is, sometimes, that respected friends suggest something that’s been especially meaningful, instructive, or inspirational to them. When I decide not to continue with a book, in that case, I often feel like I’m disparaging their thoughtful recommendation. That’s actually not the case at all, but feelings — you know, feelings lead us down slippery slopes, foolish reasoning, or a myriad of other paths, but not the right path. Not the path the Lord calls us to walk.
Well, late last year I picked up a daily devotional that I determined I’d begin the year and read each morning and evening for this year. It was recommended to me about 20 years ago — I never stayed with it consecutively day after day. But, due to some circumstances that have become blessings to me, coupled with circumstances that have not —yet-– seemed so, I decided to commit to reading through this compendium of Streams in the Desert and Springs in the Valley by Mrs. Charles E.Cowman morning and evening readings. It’s filled with scripture, short stories, poems, “sermonettes,” and encouraging words.
So… what have I discovered in reading through Streams (each morning) and Springs (each evening)? In so many ways, on so many levels, God is at work in and through us all. I knew this. He uses so many things to speak to our hearts. I know this. And when I read a Spurgeon entry, for example, I am reminded of sermons I’ve read or heard in other places or at other times in my life and I’m reminded how God ministered then, how He’s ministering where I am now — I see more clearly what God is or has been doing, teaching, or leading me to do. I’m so inspired to press on when I read of others (in very difficult circumstances) victoriously pressing on. Does a daily devotional take the place of the Bible? No, by no means. It’s just been an added benefit during this season for me. A caveat, be very careful when you choose a devotional (or teacher, author, etc., etc.) to read. Doctrine matters.
Regarding devotionals, I’m seeing that when we’re grounded in the Word, and we read of His work in (by) various people, circumstances, or times in history, we can see God’s providential care, His wisdom, His provision. We’ll more readily spot error, too. Additionally, we’ll be more apt to discern the sound (or not sound) doctrine of whatever else we’re reading.
A daily devotional and/or daily devotions… In the end, the Word of God is what I’m sure of.