Gospel-Centered Devotionals, Pt. 2 (An Example)

17 Sep

Yesterday, I gave a quick description of what the process of doing Gospel-centered devotionals looks like for me.  Again, by no stretch of the imagination, am I saying that this is the only way it must be done.  It is one way (“a tool, not a rule”) – and if it helps, then praise God. Below, I’ve reproduced the devotional that I did this morning (September 17, 2010).

I. Pray

[Prayed the I.O.U.S. for a few minutes before beginning]

II.  Read/Write

Observations:

  1. Proverbs 24:11 “Rescue those who are being taken away to death; hold back those who are stumbling to the slaughter.”
  2. Proverbs 24:29 “Do not say, ‘I will do to him as he has done to me; I will pay back the man for what he has done.'”
  3. Isaiah 31:1 “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help and rely on horses, who trust in chariots because they are many and in horsemen because they are very strong, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel or consult the LORD!”
  4. Hebrews 7:18-19 “For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.”
  5. Hebrews 7:23-25 “The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.  Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through Him, since he always live to make intercession for them.”

III. Write

Reflection Points for Hebrews 7:23-25:

1.  What does this passage tell you about the nature and character of God?

God, You are absolutely inaccessible apart from a priest/mediator through whom we are able to draw near.  As far back as the time of the Israelites throughout the Old Testament, we needed a priest/mediator to give us access to You, as a result our willful disobedience that we committed against You.

Questions begin to arise in my soul as to exactly how holy and righteous you must be that no created human being (no matter how “good” they may be; no matter how well they kept the law) is able to access your presence.  This issue goes so much deeper than simply You prohibiting us from drawing near to you; in some ways, I wonder whether or not it’s an issue of You, by your very essence, being unable to have us in your presence.

2.  What does this passage reveal about you and what went wrong?

Firstly, what this passage reveals is that no matter how much I think that I’m “good enough,” or that I’ve done “enough good,” the fact of the matter remains:  without a priest/mediator through whom I am able to draw near to God, it’s not going to happen.  That is to say, it impossible to gain access to God not only in this life, but also the next.

If it is even possible to speak in terms of degrees of holiness (as if Your holiness and righteousness can even be placed on the same spectrum as ours), then it would be safe to say, in one sense, that “the weakness of God is stronger than men” (1 Cor. 1:25).  In other words, those who would even have the audacity to claim that they were “good enough,” or that they did “enough good” (and, in fact, by human standards, were able to substantiate such a claim), they would still be utterly consumed by Your holiness.

But how much more is this true – namely, that we would are unable to draw near to You – for those who already recognize the filthiness of their hearts!  And, also those who are plagued by the guilt and condemnation of not only their past and present sins, but also the ones they know they will be unable to control in the future?

God, I am clearly unable to draw near to You by any righteousness of my own.  I am an idolater who loves comfort, human recognition, earthly pleasures more than You (e.g. Judges 2:17).  I am a hypocrite who, all too often, holds people to standards that I can’t even live up to, myself (e.g. Matthew 23:1-4).  I am a lustful man who allows lust to dwell in my heart (e.g. Matthew 5:27-28) and then becomes arrogant and looks down on those who act out on their lust (e.g. Isaiah 2:17).  I fail, on a daily basis, to be the husband that you call me to be (e.g. Ephesians 5:25; 1 Peter 3:7; 1 Timothy 5:8)…

3. 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.

… But, even as I reflect on how absolutely holy You are (and how absolutely holy I am not), I am all the more in awe of the fact that You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to be this priest/mediator for me through whom I am now able to draw near to You.

What makes this even more amazing than it already is, is the fact that Christ’s priesthood is permanent! He is always making intercession for me.  Even now – today – as wicked as my heart may be (today!), and as much as I might fail and fall short of God’s holy standards (today!), I am blown away by the fact that this wasn’t simply a one time deal.  But rather, Christ is “always” making intercession for me.  “By one sacrifice, he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” (Hebrews 10:14).  God, thank You, for your inexplicable grace.

4. Write down a prayer in which you express your gratitude and your need for the Spirit’s help to war against whatever sin He has graciously exposed.

God, thank You once again, for not only graciously exposing my sin and how short I fall on a daily basis, but also for the fact that You remind me of what Your Son has done on the cross for me – namely, dying for my sins in my place and thus, becoming my permanent priest/mediator through whom I am now able to draw near to You.

Now, Lord, I ask that you will supply me with the strength that only you can supply so that I might, through my life, bring glory to you through Jesus Christ (1 Peter 4:10-11).  I ask, first of all, that you will cause me to be in your Word everyday – as it is the main way in which you have ordained to speak to us.  Through it, I pray that you will continue to convict me of sin (everyday) and encourage me through your promises (everyday).  Help me, also, to apply what you have spoken to me about in Your Word regarding my sin.


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