My Daily Process for doing "Gospel-Centered" Devotionals

16 Sep

The Gospel is for Believers (also)

I am under the firm conviction that the Gospel – that is, the good news that Jesus Christ died for sinners – is not only for non-believers, but also for believers.

One of the most subtle false teachings that many American Christians adhere to today is the false teaching that the Gospel is simply “something that gets me into heaven, and then, has absolutely nothing else to do with the rest of my life.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Rather, the Gospel is something that believers are to be resting in and drawing strength from on a daily basis.

For example, we see this in Romans when the Apostle Paul writes to those who are not only “loved by God,” but also “called to be saints” (Rom. 1:7) and expresses his eager desire to “preach the gospel” to them” (Rom. 1:15).  In other words, the Apostle is eager to preach the Gospel… to believers!

We see this same principle laid out also in Colossians 1:5-6 in which, again, the Apostle Paul says this:  “Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing – as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth.”

Meaning, that from the day that we first hear the Gospel and the Holy Spirit enlightens our minds and hearts to trust Christ for the forgiveness us of our sins, it namely, the Gospel – never stops bearing fruit and growing.

What Does this Process Practically Look Like?

So, then, what does it look like practically to rest in; draw strength from; feed off the Gospel on a daily basis?  The following’s just a brief description of what that process looks like for me.  But, by no means, am I saying that it must be done this way.  It’s just that, over the years, I’ve found that what helps me in growing in my relationship with Christ is by seeing what others have done and adapting it in a way that works for me.  And so, if this helps you in any way, praise God.

1.  Pray (1-2 minutes)

It all begins with prayer as an acknowledgment that, unless God intervenes through His Spirit, we are powerless to see what He would have us to see in His Word.  What I pray are the I.O.U.S. It’s an acronym that I learned from John Piper in which each letter of the acronym represents a prayer that was prayed in the Psalms.

  • I – “Incline my heart to your testimonies and not to selfish gain.” (Psalm 119:36)
  • O – “Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law. (Psalm 119:18)
  • U – “Unite my heart to fear your name.” (Psalm 86:11)
  • S – “Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” (Psalm 90:14)

2.  Read (15-20 minutes)

Over the years, I’ve found that if you don’t have a plan to read the Bible everyday, then you’re not going to – simple as that.  And so, the plan that I’m using to read through the Bible in a year is a plan that (again, surprise surprise) John Piper recommended (for those who are OCD and don’t like the idea of starting the year-long plan three-quarters of the way through the year, you can either start from January 1 or just start from whatever date you start and finish this year off and start fresh again next year).

But what I do is I read through all four sections (the Bible-reading plan has you read small sections from four different parts of the Bible everyday) and, as I’m reading, I jot down in my journal (not a diary) the verse or verses that jump out at me.

3.  Write (15-20 minutes)

After reading (and jotting down several of the verses), then I move onto the actual writing.  There are days that I don’t write anything down (usually when I’m in a hurry), but I find it extremely helpful to focus my thoughts.  It also helps keep my attention longer when I write down my thoughts, as opposed to just thinking about it.

But, what I do is I choose only one of the verses that I jotted down during my reading and choose to focus on that one verse for my reflections.  And there are usually four reflection points that I usually try to write about regarding that one passage, or verse.

  • (a)  Write down what this passage reveals about the nature and character of God – Here, my aim is to really understand who God is and what He is like (as He is revealed in this passage).  Some days, the attribute that is highlighted is God’s absolutely holiness.  And other days, it might be His kindness and mercy.  But, whatever it may be, my goal is to understand the nature and character of God in that description or prescription.
  • (b)  Write down what this passage reveals about you and what went wrong. – Here, my aim is to dig down as deep as I can go to see how absolutely wicked, sinful, and idolatrous I am in relation to a holy and righteous God.  For example, if in the reading, what’s been revealed is how holy God is with regards to sexual purity (e.g. Matthew 5:27-28), then what that should expose about my heart is exactly how horribly I fail at this – citing specific examples.  The reason for this being: it’s only when we see God for who He really is and ourselves for who we really are – namely, sinners in need of God’s mercy – will we appreciate what Christ accomplished on the cross for us.  Which leads me to the third point.
  • (c)  Spend time reflecting on the Gospel – that is to say, thank Him for exposing you of your sin and then, rest in the finished work of Christ on the cross on your behalf. – The idea here is to just spend a few minutes (or however long it may take) and just truly meditate on what He has done for you in light of the sin that was just exposed through His Word.
  • (d) Write down a prayer in which you: (1) express gratitude for what Christ has done in light of the sin that was exposed through His Word, and then (2) ask Him for help to overcome that sin and/or idolatry. – With regards to the first part – namely, expressing gratitude – what’s implied is that you trust what 1 John 1:9 says when in it, John says that “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  Many people understand that they’ve sinned against God, so they turn from it (repentance), but do not believe that God is powerful enough to forgive them (faith).  But, when the Bible calls us to turn from sin (repentance), He also calls us to turn to Jesus for the forgiveness of those sins (faith).  And in regards to the second part – namely, asking for help – it’s this idea that you take 1 Peter 4:10-11 seriously; that it is God the only who supplies us with strength so that, in the end, God will be glorified.  And so, when we pray and ask God to supply us with the strength to overcome that sin, we are trusting that the Holy Spirit will do just that as we live our lives.

Tomorrow, I’ll post up an actual example from my devotional.

Advertisements

One Response to “My Daily Process for doing "Gospel-Centered" Devotionals”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Ekklesia521: Undone By Grace » Blog Archive » Gospel-Centered Devotionals, Pt. 2 - September 17, 2010

    […] […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: