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Devotional Reading: 10 Short walks with Jesus

Devotional reading is from the Bible.  Moses gave a prayer for use morning and evening. (the Shema) Jesus Himself prayed it, you can too!

Devotional reading is from the Bible. Moses gave a prayer for use for the morning and evening - the Shema - Jesus Himself prayed it, you can too!

His disciples got to know Jesus by walking with Him and talking about the things of God. What did they talk about? The Bible! Given by Moses*, the first five books of the Bible were the foundation of their devotional lives.



One prayer they all knew and recited daily was the "Shema,"


Hear O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. – Deuteronomy 6:5-6.

When this was written (1500 BC), the LORD commanded His people to read the scriptures. By Jesus’ day, regular readings were firmly established in the synagogues. We see Jesus Himself giving one of these readings in Nazareth: - Luke 4:21


My father and mother built our family morning worship on this pattern. As we took a short walk through a chapter in the Old Testament, a Psalm, a chapter in the New and prayed a short prayer, we got to know Jesus and learned to walk with Him. This was how I got to know Him, and my reason for writing this and that it will help you walk with Him too.


What About the New Testament?

Jesus returned to His Father before He sent the Holy Spirit to inspire the writing of the New Testament. It took two hundred years for these twenty-seven books to become a part of the liturgy/formal form of worship of the church, and several hundred years more for it to be woven in with the Old Testament, Psalter, and Prayer.


At this time some began to study the Scriptures devotionally, beginning with Origen* (184-253) and culminating in the Lectio Divina (Latin for “Divine Reading”), a 4-step process that treats the Bible as the living Word of God: read; meditate; pray; contemplate. The focus of Lectio Divina is not a theological analysis of biblical passages but viewing them with the Lord Jesus Christ* as the key to their meaning.


Up until the Reformation (1514), all this was done by monks in monasteries with prayers and readings recited methodically at canonical hours throughout the day. With the Reformation, devotional reading began to be used by individuals.


1. Where did reading daily appear?


Johann Habermann (1516-1590) wrote the first prayerbook with prayers for each day of the week. I was praying these when I underwent treatments for throat cancer and will never forget this one from Thursday, December 29, the last radiation treatment:


Prayer for Thursday Morning.
Jesus Christ, Thou art the eternal light, which dispelleth the darkness of night and the shadow of death: I magnify Thy name, I glorify and thank Thee. For Thou hast so graciously kept me during this night, and hast brought me out of the darkness to the light of day.
Thou hast shielded me against the terrors of the night, the snares of the devil, the noisome pestilence, that walketh in the darkness, manifold illness and disease. Thou hast guarded and watched over my soul, even as the shepherd watches over his flock.

This is a wonderful short-term devotional journey. Along with many prayers from my family and church, these prayers strengthened and comforted me during my healing from cancer.


2. Reformation of the Psalter


In 1535, Miles Coverdale published his English translation of the Bible from Jerome’s Latin text. Each psalm is given a Latin title taken from the first words of the Psalm, for example, Psalm 23. Dominus regit me. THE LORD ís my shépherd; * therefore can Ī lack nothing.

They are presented as elements of Morning and Evening Worship for the 30 days of the month, with the lines divided by an asterisk for responsive reading.


Coverdale’s psalter was so popular that it was adopted by the Church of England and printed in its Book of Common Prayer from the mid-16th century down to the present day. I read it daily.


3. Devotional reading of the Book of Common Prayer


The Book of Common Prayer has incorporated Coverdale’s translation and presentation as its own, and this is one excellent reason to read the BCP in our private devotions too. The Prayerbook also has many prayers for use by families and individuals, another good reason to read it devotionally.


But the best reason for using the BCP is that it is filled with Scripture on every page. It also provides Bible readings for each week of the Christian Calendar Year, and a “daily office” for reading the Bible through. I have used this for my annual “through the Bible” readings for many years.


4. Structure for personal quiet time.


One of the first personal and private devotions we have comes from Lancelot Andrewes (1555 – 1626), translator of the Psalms to the King James Bible. Andrewes spent the first 5 hours of each day in his private devotions, more time than most of us have. But what we can learn from them is how to order our own.


Most people think of praying as a “want list” for God. Andrewes presents his prayers for each day of the week in this order;

Confession,

Prayer for Grace,

Profession,

Intercession,

and Praise.


What is of great importance and power is the scripture upon which each step of his prayer process is based. We are blessed in simply reading his introduction!


5. Daily readings for a defined period


Fénelon (1651 – 1715), was a French Catholic Archbishop, scholar, and theologian who protected Madam Guyon* and was sympathetic to the Quietist movement in the court of Louis XIV. I have been blessed by his mediations on humility in his 40 Spiritual Letters, which I have used several times alone and other times with my children. From the introduction:


O Abba Father, fill me with this love! Root out in me all sin and bitterness; cleanse me deep and wholly from sin both known and unknown; free me from generational sin, from unconscious guilt and fear and environmental situations which I am unable to even recognize but which the blood of Jesus can cover and heal and cleanse!


40 days is a Biblical season. Jesus fasted and prayed 40 days in the wilderness where He was tempted by the devil. This was the same time Moses fasted and prayed before receiving the 10 Commandments. Christians observe 40 days of fasting & prayer during Advent & Lent, and I have used these letters of Fenelon during 40 days to meet special needs.


6. Books for Devotional reading created by Charles Spurgeon


Charles Spurgeon* (1834 – 1892) is known as the “Prince of Preachers”. He was also a strong and courageous defender of the Gospel against Darwinism and Modernism in all its forms. All of his preaching and teaching is from the Bible, which he defended from all who sought to weaken its authority as the inerrant Word of God. He led the way in creating daily devotions, and I recommend 3 that I have used and learned from.


Morning by Morning, 1865: Spurgeon, with his masterful hand, carefully selected his text from throughout the Bible and covered a broad range of topics, to present a well-balanced and fruitful daily devotional for readers both young and old.


Morning and Evening is an online devotional that presents Spurgeon’s scripture and teaching for every day of the year. You may have it sent to you personally every morning & evening.


Faith’s Checkbook, 1888, was the one my family used for 50 years. “A promise from God may very instructively be compared to a check payable to order,” wrote. Spurgeon. “It is given to the believer with the view of bestowing upon him some good thing. It is not meant that he should read it over comfortably, and then have done with it. No, he is to treat the promise as a reality, as a man treats a check.”


That idea pervades the 365 readings of this thought-provoking daily devotional, designed to encourage readers to take God at His word.



7. Devotional reading by Oswald Chambers


My Utmost for His Highest, 1924.


Chambers* (1874 – 1917) is a lifelong hero of mine, a missionary, teacher, and minister/caregiver to soldiers during World War I. He died at age 43 from appendicitis in 1917 because he refused to take up a hospital bed that wounded soldiers could use. His wife Gertrude (“Biddy”) Hobbs Chambers began publishing his sermons and teaching in 500-word installments. The most successful of these is My Utmost for His Highest, which has sold over 13 million copies in 39 languages.


Chambers was converted under the preaching of Charles Spurgeon and later became a Holiness minister in the Pentecostal League of Prayer. This devotional has been a part of my life for over 50 years, and it inspires me today even more than when I read it for the first time.


8. Devotional reading by Mrs. Charles Cowman*


The Cowmans were missionaries to Japan and China where they worked with Oswald Chambers *and presented the Gospel to some 60 million souls. Streams in the Desert, 1925 is a collection Mrs.Cowman’s thoughts, quotations, and spiritual inspiration her years of missionary work in Japan and China — particularly the six years she nursed her husband while he was dying.”--Publisher’s forward. Google Books’


One value of this thoughtful devotional is its sharing of her experience of being “in the Desert,” as many of us often are. God’s presence always surrounds us, and He has promised never to leave or forsake us. These reassurances are comforting and faith-building and help me rest in Jesus. There is a scripture for every day along with it the thoughts, comments and poems of other Christians over the years. The poems make this devotional come alive for me. From it my father memorized many and passed them along to me. I am exceedingly grateful for all of this and have made this book a regular part of my life. I delight in it, and so will you.


9. Devotional reading of Theodore Austin Sparks,* (1888–1971),


I discovered Mr. Sparks* when I typed in “The Centrality and Supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ” in Google. His name came up, and I thought what a wonderful testimony this is. His ministry is Christ-centered and cross-centered, and I have learned much from him over the years. So have such other Spirit-filled Christians like Bakht Singh of India, Watchman Nee of China, and Roger Forster of the United Kingdom.


His work is all published free and available via the Internet. It is often very deep, too deep for me, but his teaching is powerful and often augmented by diagrams such as the one here, In Christ.

I think the deepness here is from the Holy Ghost, and I find great comfort and assurance that Jesus is All and in all when I spend time with Austin-Sparks. It also gives me the confidence to rest in Him. I can almost hear Him calling:


Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. – Matthew 11:28-30


I encourage everyone looking for the deep things of Christ to try these anointed messages.


10. Active Devotional reading and workbook


Experiencing God, by Henry T. Blackaby, 1990


Henry T. Blackaby is a Canadian pastor and Baptist theologian and college president. His best book was Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, published in 1990, sold 7 million copies. I used this book to minister to my children when they were in college.

It is structured around these 7 topics:

Blackaby calls them the “Seven Realities of Experiencing God.” They are:

1. God is always at work around you.

2. God pursues a continuing love relationship with you that is real and personal.

3. God invites you to become involved with Him in His work.

4, God speaks by the Holy Spirit through the Bible, prayer, circumstances, and the church to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways.

5. God’s invitation for you to work with Him always leads you to a crisis of belief that requires faith and action.

6. You must make major adjustments in your life to join God in what He is doing.

7. You come to know God by experience as you obey Him and He accomplishes His work through you

This devotional is for those who like to write and keep an active posture in spending time with the Lord. It is a great fit to pull us out of ruts and point us to blessings.


Devotional reading in my life


Mine began as a boy, before I could read, my parents taught me the Bible, every morning, a chapter from the Old Testament and one from the New. I would also pick a “promise” from our “Daily Bread Promise Box” and bring it to one of them to read.


When I began to read, this became a way to demonstrate it by reading both sides of the promise to Mom or Dad. During my teenage years, I wandered away from the Lord and abandoned this practice.


When Jesus brought me back to His fold, I resumed this practice, and to this day pick one and carry it with me throughout the day. What a blessing it has been in keeping me close to Jesus and His Word.


Sometimes, I will pass the promise I have drawn on to someone I meet during the day. Other times, I will include one in a card or letter I am sending. The promises are always a blessing.


As Jesus said,


It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. – John 6:63


Throughout my 75 years of life, I have been blessed by all of the devotional books and material presented above. It has changed as my circumstances and the places God has placed me have. But always, at the beginning of every day, I obey the words of Jesus and go to His Word:


But seek ye first the kingdom of


This command and promise are for every Believer. I pray that this blog will be a resource to many to take another step in their journey on that narrow road to Truth and Life.


TAKE TIME TO BE HOLY

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Take time to be holy, speak oft with thy Lord;

abide in him always, and feed on His word.

Make friends of God’s children, help those who are weak,

forgetting in nothing His blessing to seek.

Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;

spend much time in secret with Jesus alone.

By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;

thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.

Take time to be holy, let Him be thy guide,

and run not before him, whatever betide.

In joy or in sorrow, still follow the Lord,

and, looking to Jesus, still trust in His word.

Take time to be holy, be calm in thy soul,

each thought and each motive beneath his control.

Thus led by his spirit to fountains of love,

thou soon shalt be fitted for service above.

William D. Longstaff, 1822-1894


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