by Kevin Carson
A. Generally speaking, devotions fall into one of two styles. Some provide the storyline or context of the Bible (usually accomplished through a Bible-reading plan where one reads systematically through the Bible). Other methods of devotions strive for content and greater understanding of meaning. Both styles are helpful.
Regardless, all devotions should focus on helping you grow in communion with God and living consistent in fellowship with Him. Notice how James describes it.
But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. (James 1:25)
THREE STAGES OF DAILY DEVOTIONS
Read for Comprehension. Regardless of how many verses are read, focus on a particular verse or verses. To “look” means to stoop over to observe. Essentially, you want to know what was said, where it was said, to whom it was said, and why it was said. Ask:
- Who is the author? Who are the characters in the story/episode? Who are the recipients of the letter?
- When and where is it taking place (setting)? and
- What is the author teaching (authorial intent)? Your goal is to comprehend what a particular verse means.
Remember What You Read. Intentionally remember what you read, “continuing or remaining” in the meaning of the passage throughout the day. The psalmist refers to this, “But his delight is in the law of the Lord and in His law does he meditate day and night” (Psalm 1:1). To help you remember, try the following:
- Use a journal to write the verse and its meaning.
- Write the verse on an index card and set a goal to read it 10 to 25 times throughout the day.
- Take time to discuss what you read with a friend, family member, or colleague.
Apply What You Read. Once you understand the meaning of the text, apply it to your daily living. Key questions to connect what you have read with your life include:
- How does the meaning of the text correlate to your personal situation?
- What do these verses reveal about who God is or what He does? (You are setting the scenario to understand the “bigger issue” at hand; not just your present problem or situation.)
- What do these verses reveal about me or people in general?
- What should I resolve to do in response to these verses/passage? What is explicit and implicit in the text? What looks wise as a result of the passage’s meaning?
- How does this passage help me love God or love my neighbor?
Write key issues of application in your journal. Then share your desired application with someone for accountability.
WHAT IS THE RESULT?
When you read, remember, and apply God’s Word, God blesses and rewards your efforts in seeking to honor Him. He strengthens and encourages you in your inner man, while establishing you in every good word and work. Further, you begin to live more consistent with what you read, which brings more blessings.
TEST THE RESULTS
James challenges you, in the next two verses, to consider whether or not you are actually religious — are you the real deal? It starts with your tongue. Do you have control of your tongue? Are you serving others selflessly? Are you living a pure lifestyle? James expects his readers to read, consider, remember, and apply God’s Word to everyday life and circumstances.