The importance of devotionals
Published 11:12 pm Thursday, August 16, 2018
By Thurman Hayes
Through the years, I have used various devotionals to whet my appetite for God’s Word. A devotional book is never meant to take the place of the Bible, but a good one can be a stimulating lead-in to the Word.
“Morning and Evening,” by Charles Spurgeon, often fits that need for me. Spurgeon was a British pastor in the late 1800s in London and was the greatest preacher of the 19th century. He wrote “Morning and Evening” as a series that would provide two devotionals for every day — one in the morning and one in the evening.
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God had given Spurgeon unique gifts of encouragement and compassion, which shine through every devotional he wrote. Often if I am burdened or need to be lifted up, I find that Spurgeon helps me look up and see Jesus, in all His majesty and love.
Just this week, I read a devotional in “Morning and Evening” that was based on Psalm 104:16, which said, “The trees of the Lord are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted.”
As Spurgeon notes, the Christian owes his planting entirely to the Lord. We are not responsible for the new birth we were given in Jesus. As Spurgeon titled another of his books — one of my favorites — our salvation was “All of Grace.”
Second, the cedars of Lebanon are not dependent on human beings for their nourishment. God provides their water. So it is with us. God does use human beings to encourage us, particularly the fellowship of our local church. But ultimately, it is the Holy Spirit who gives the necessary irrigation when our lives are parched.
Nor are the cedars protected by any mortal power. God is the one who sustains them. Although these trees are outside, exposed to storms, “the broad wings of the eternal God always cover the cedars which He Himself has planted.”
Like the cedars, believers are full of sap. Because of the Holy Spirit, we can be evergreen — even when the winter snows encroach.
Another recent devotion in “Morning and Evening” was about communion with God. Spurgeon says, “How deep and broad is the channel of our communion! This no narrow pipe … it is a channel of amazing depth and breadth, among whose glorious length a ponderous volume of living water may roll its floods. Behold he hath set before us an open door, let us not be slow to enter.”
I pray that you, dear reader, will avail yourself to the presence of the God who loves you. Draw near to him and he will draw near to you (James 4:8). Make time to spend with Him each day — it is the most important appointment on your calendar. And then practice His presence throughout the day. Don’t do life alone.
Jesus has come so that we can have fellowship with God as His beloved children. Do you know Jesus? Confess your sins and need for Him. Turn to Him. Trust Him. Welcome Him into your life. He will come to you.
Dr. Thurman R. Hayes Jr. is senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Suffolk. Follow him on Twitter at @ThurmanHayesJr.