24 February 2008

Making the Most of Your Devotional Life

I'm always on the lookout for Reformed devotional material and recently came across Making the Most of Your Devotional Life by Derek Thomas. It is a study of Psalms 120 through 134. From the introduction Thomas tells us, Another view suggests that these psalms may have been sung in turn on the fifteen steps which led from one temple court to another (the word 'ascent' is used of steps or stairs)...It is suggested that the ascent is to be understood in a spiritual way; these psalms are meant to convey a fifteen-step programme of meditative, spiritual progress from one degree to another...and they can function very easily as guides to growth and maturity in the faith. Ah, a study of the Psalms with a goal of growth and maturity, that's right up my alley. Thomas points out that there are at least five qualifiers for biblical spirituality that should be understood. First, spirituality must be theocentric & secondly it must be Bible based and Bible driven. Third, spirituality must be biblically realistic. Next, it must be twin-focused - that is, both on this world and the world which is to come. Finally, spirituality must involve effort on our part as well as empowering on God's part. After a meaty but simple to read introduction I was anxious to get started with Psalm 120.

1 In my distress I cried unto the LORD, and he heard me.
2 Deliver my soul, O LORD, from lying lips, and from a deceitful tongue.
3 What shall be given unto thee? or what shall be done unto thee, thou false tongue?
4 Sharp arrows of the mighty, with coals of juniper.
5 Woe is me, that I sojourn in Mesech, that I dwell in the tents of Kedar!
6 My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace.
7 I am for peace: but when I speak, they are for war.

Thomas notes that Psalm 120 is often a favorite of many even though it seems gloomy. Some of the highlights from this chapter started with the author's reminder that we are never free from suffering in this world. "Losses and crosses" was the Puritan phrase for this. "We must go through many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God" (Acts 14:22). Life is replete with missed opportunities and let-downs. The psalmist is remembering a time when he enjoyed worship in God's house and now he is somehow prevented from it. Do we miss it when we cannot attend? If not, we have a serious issue we must deal with directly. The way of recovery involves recognizing a few truths.

1. We must recognize that an enemy exists.

2. We must recognize our inadequacy to overcome the enemy.

3. The source of all our hope lies in the power of God.

4. Prayer is the "key that unlocks the gate to renewed fellowship with God."

This first chapter really was inspiring and motivating to make a deeper connection with God in light of the troubles in life we all encounter. There is much more I could say but I hope that if your looking for such a book as this that I have possibly interested you in this one. I look forward to reading the next chapter and meditating on Psalm 121.

1 comment:

Eric the Less said...

Thanks for this brief intro. Was looking for something this morning to get started with the Lord. You gave me a bite sized intro that points me to the praiseworthy and wonderful God we serve. Thanks.