Several years ago I began promoting in the churches I served, churchwide Scripture reading plans or corporate devotional initiatives of some sort…plans to get folks into the Scriptures that might not otherwise step over the initial “hurdle” of beginning a devotional discipline. I remember one man in one church coming to me and strongly declaring that he would not be joining us in the initiative because it wasn’t deep enough for him. He soon left the church I served and connected to another for short season. Now he doesn’t attend anywhere and by all accounts I am familiar with…faith has no role in his lifestyle, choices, or desires. That grieves me because I was investing in his discipleship. He was in a place of leadership and influence and we had an accountability relationship.
You might ask, “Where did he run off the rails?” My answer: He lacked discipline. He was not devoted to the best things. Sure, he did some good things but he did not do the best things. He was familiar with “Jesus stuff” but not devoted to Jesus.
A better question is, “How could he have prevented the slide into practical agnosticism?” (An agnostic is one who does not deny that God may exist, but operates as if it doesn’t matter either way). That term may seem a bit strong but I don’t know what else to call it when you live daily as if you alone are the source of your own strength, peace, and security.
One of the ways (assuming he was and is born-again…an argument I am not making but am allowing for since I can only judge the fruit in his life) is by choosing discipline.
Discipline is when we choose to act in a certain manner because we have decided it is best, particularly when doing so is uncomfortable. It is skipping dessert when we want the cake but we need to shed a few pounds. It is going for a walk when we might prefer to watch television. It is setting aside 15 minutes in the quiet of the morning to read from the Scriptures and maybe a devotional guide along with prayer.
As a pastor, I hope it goes without saying that I have read the Bible numerous times and that I have a “better than average” knowledge of the Scriptures. Yet, in my “normal” PERSONAL Christ-follower discipline…I read daily from the Scriptures, read from 3-4 devotional guides, meditate/consider what I read…and pray. My discipline involves 30 mins to an hour daily. This, of course, is outside of my sermon/message prep and study discipline for teaching.
Here is the question: “If I find a need to discipline myself in pursuit of quiet time/devotion…how might someone with less exposure to the Scriptures find it less necessary for themself?”
Regardless of where you are NOW, you could start a devotional discipline if you choose, or start back in your discipline. Choose today to give God your focus and attention for a certain period of time every day. My guess…what begins as DISCIPLINE will blossom as DEVOTION very soon.