I overheard someone talking about 'morning devotions' recently and it made me wonder about the definition of the word devotion and how it is used. The dictionary defines devotion as, "profound dedication; consecration; earnest attachment to a cause, person, etc.; an assignment or appropriation to any purpose, cause, etc. (the devotion of one's wealth and time to scientific advancement). Often devotions. Ecclesiastical. Religious observance or worship; a form of prayer or worship for special use."
That's quite a lot of information, but for the purpose of this blog, I want to look at the primary definition, "profound dedication, consecration, earnest attachment to a person…". When it comes to making time for God, how profound (of deep meaning; being or going far beneath what is superficial, external, or obvious) is our dedication? Do we set aside time for Him often? Or is prayer and Bible study a quick few words or a few scriptures, just so we can check it off our to-do list? How devoted are we to the One who gave everything for us?
Luke 16:13 makes it clear that we need to be sure of who or what we are serving; it says, "No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon." Mammon is defined as riches, wealth, or the god of riches. If we spend more time seeking to get ahead financially, rather than spiritually, who are we truly serving? Now, don't get me wrong. Most of us must work, and work hard, for things in this life. But if our determination to succeed financially and/or materially overshadows our determination to serve God, perhaps we have too much emphasis on the wrong things. After all, this life is only temporary. Shouldn't we be more concerned for our eternal life than this temporal one?
One of my favorite scriptures tells us, in 2 Timothy 2:15, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." And in 2 Timothy 3:16-17, we are reminded, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect (complete), thoroughly furnished unto all good works." If we only spend a few minutes here and there reading the inspired word of God, how can we truly study and understand His message to us? And if we don't understand His message, how can we follow His will for our lives? We must devote time solely to the study of God's word, so that we can be sure that we are truly understanding His will for us. Even those who received salvation a long time ago need to continue to take time to study the Bible, because God often reveals a new understanding to us when we give Him the time and devotion He deserves. Many of us know that there are scriptures we have read over and over, but often to our surprise, we read it again and we see a whole different perspective that we have never seen before. God can give us a deeper understanding and wisdom when we take the time to truly study scriptures.
Paul's letters to the Corinthians tells us a lot about our devoted service to God. In 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, we read, "What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's." And in chapter 10, verse 31, we are told, "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." In 2 Corinthians 5:15, 17, scripture again makes it clear, "And that He died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto Him which died for them, and rose again. Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new." With Christ as our Savior, we don't belong to ourselves any longer. We have made a choice to give up our selfish desires of the flesh to seek our spiritual calling, and the Holy Spirit dwells within us to help and guide us. We are made new in Christ, and as such we need to seek His will that we might grow spiritually in all things.
We are also reminded, in James 1:22-27, "But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. For if any be a hearer of the word, and not a doer, he is like unto a man beholding his natural face in a glass: for he beholdeth himself, and goeth his way, and straightway forgetteth what manner of man he was. But whoso looketh into the perfect law of liberty, and continueth therein, he being not a forgetful hearer, but a doer of the work, this man shall be blessed in his deed. If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man's religion is vain. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world." Are we set aside from those who seek their own selfish desires? When we see others in need and we have the ability to help, do we follow through and help them, or do we just say a prayer and keep going? Are we truly trying to live according to God's word, or are we just going through the motions?
Are we truly devoted to God the Father, Jesus our Savior, and our wonderful helper and guide the Holy Spirit? Are we truly interested in learning more about God's message to us through the Bible? How often do we spend time talking with God? And I say 'with', because we need a conversation with God, not just time to give Him our list of wants and needs. We need to make sure that we allow time for Him to respond. Unfortunately, in the hectic pace of the world we live in, most of us don't give Him the time to answer before we are up off the floor and out the door, on to the next thing on our to-do list. And then we wonder why our prayers are not answered. Maybe if we truly want the answers, we will take time to listen for them. If we walked out on a conversation with a friend, co-worker, or boss, the consequences could be devastating. We might lose a dear friend or even lose our job. But most of us think nothing of walking out on our conversations with God before allowing Him the time to tell us what He wants to say. There honestly isn't much devotion in a conversation like that.
However, we are still in our human bodies, and they can be so weak, so we must stand strong and not give in to desires of the flesh. This is the reason we are told in Romans 12:1-2, "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God." It is only through devotion to God and His word and will that we can set aside our worldly desires and replace them with spiritual ones. And in 1 Thessalonians 2:12, we are exhorted, "That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto His kingdom and glory." Instead of making God and the Bible an afterthought, be sure to make time in your daily life to spend devoted time with our Heavenly Father, seeking His will. Take time to talk WITH God, not just to Him. We might all be amazed at what He has to say if we truly take the time to study His word and listen for His responses to our prayers. Let each of us show our Heavenly Father that we are profoundly dedicated and have an earnest attachment to Him, seeking His will for our lives instead of our own. Make time for the One who loves you more than anyone else does, or possibly could. And as spoken in 1 Samuel 12:24, "Only fear the LORD, and serve Him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things He hath done for you."