As we think about the value of mothers this weekend, we cannot help but think about how far our culture is straying from the biblical description of what the standard should be for women. This includes Christian women who have never been taught modesty.
Several years ago we came across these outstanding resources from the Mahaney family. First a message from C. J. Mahaney:
Faithful Gospel preaching in this era of spiritual apathy requires faith and patience. Two stories from the past will encourage the faithful witness.
First, a story from the ministry of John Flavel (1628-1691). Robert Murray M’Cheyne reports of how a 15 year old American immigrant named Luke Short heard Flavel preach a message on 1 Corinthians 16.22: “If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema. Maranatha!” Short was not a Christian at the time, nor was he for the next 85 years. But at the age of 100, he reflected on the memory of that sermon and was converted! Of course, Flavel was already in glory with the Savior at that point.
The second story is not of a pastor but a layman who loved Jesus and proclaimed him faithfully through personal witnessing on a street in Sydney, Australia:
Expectations play a key role in our motivation and our success. This is true also in regard to an effective devotional life.
This is a short list, but it should help you set your expectations appropriate.
1. Don’t expect to immediately be logging 1-2 hours of devotional time each day. Start with some simple goals. Seek to spend 10 minutes in Bible reading and prayer (try 5 of each). Think of it like running. The first day you may only be able to run a half of a mile. But the next day you do it again. Then the next day you go a little farther. The next week you are running over a mile, and so on. Start with 10 minutes and then within a couple of months, don’t be surprised that you now need 20-30 minutes. Jesus would spend an entire night in prayer sometimes. If you try to start like that, you will probably burn out fast.
What do you need to have an effective devotional time?
A BIBLE. That is really the only necessity. I suppose if you didn’t have an actual, physical Bible with you, you could still reflect upon the Scriptures that you have memorized, but even then you are still engaging with the Bible.
The Bible is necessary because His Word is the means He has chosen to speak to us. And without utilizing the means He has chosen to speak to us, we are destined to only have a one-sided conversation: us talking to God. A dynamic relationship is one in which the conversation is two-way: both sides communicating to one another. God speaks to us in His Word and we speak to God in prayer. The two go hand-in-hand. In fact, one without the other for an extended period of time is not spiritually healthy. To pray apart from God’s Word is to eventually pray amiss. To read God’s Word without prayer is to eventually just be inputting information.
Is the Bible the only thing you should use in a devotional time?
Most Christians have found it very helpful to start their day off with a devotional time. Apparently Spurgeon said 1 hour of prayer in the morning is worth 2 at night. I can definitely identify with that statement. Someone has also said, “Better to pray for guidance and strength in the morning than to confess and repent at night.” The basic gist of these quotes is that you are more likely to experience spiritual victory throughout your day if you start the day with your devotional time. Much like the cereal commercials that emphasize that you start your day off right (physically) with their cereal, it pays off to start your day off right with spiritual nourishment.