A Thought on Gospel-Centered DevotionsTuesday, March 08, 2005
I've often said that my ivory tower is my ivory soap and shower! That's where so much thought goes on. There's just something about a steaming hot shower to loosen sinus congestion and get the mental juices flowing!
It was in my 'ivory tower' one morning that a thought occurred to me. I said to myself, "Self, do you suppose there is anything in the daily and weekly routine of the OT sacrificial offerings that can serve as a parable or lesson or reflection on our lifes as NT saints?"
What I mean is this. Daily and weekly, the average Israelite would attend the temple in order to make his or her burnt offerings, peace offerings, guilt offerings, sin offerings, etc. As NT saints, we know now that these offerings were a foreshadow of the ultimate sacrificial offering in Jesus Christ. He was the spotless Lamb sacrificed for us, to make peace with God, by absolving our guilty consciences, forgiving our usins. The OT saints made sacrifices by faith in the One who would come. What sacrifices can NT saints make by faith in the One who has already come?
Romans 12:1 teaches that we are to offer up our bodies as living sacrifices to God, holy and acceptable, which is our reasonable service. Paul says this in light of the OT sacrificial system. I am asking whether or not there is another way. What if we reoriented our devotions, our quiet times, our private worship times around the Lamb who was sacrificed on our behalf? What if He and His person and work became the all-consuming activity of our mental energies during that time.
Some will undoubtedly say, "Wow Rob. You're so bright. I think that's what most Christians do already." Some will certainly say that. But ask the average Christian if he or she even has such a time daily and they will probably respond no. Then get with the Christians that do have one and ask them how they spend that time. Most in my denomination use a devotional such as Open Windows, others use Daily Bread. Devotionals are useful and for some, essential.
My 'beef' is not with devotionals, but with what those devotionals contain. If the failures in preaching which I have been remarking upon are in fact true, then it is true for the majority of devotionals we use. They are too quip, trite, and shallow from my perspective. They only leave me with a sense that I have done my "daily duty" before God to read something spiritual, something biblical, and then I go about my day feeling good that I have had my devotions.
When I stopped to think about it, I realized that this system of devotions in reality ignored, neglected and rejected the sacrificial work of Christ on the cross! My devotions left me feeling I had done "my duty" before God, I had my quiet time and I'm spiritual. Yet the cross argues against that! I was incapable of performing "my duty" before God at anytime. And even as a Christian Jesus Himself works through me to perform "my duty" (Gal. 2:2). I was unspiritual and always will be without Jesus Christ. So my devotions there left me with a sense of self-righteousness rather than a sense of Christ-righteousness.
I called myself to a more gospel-centered form of devotions, one that meditates on Christ and Him crucified. If that's all Paul ever wanted to know, that's all I want to know. So I switched to reading chapters of books for this devotional time rather than devotionals. I searched for books, and mainly books containing sermons which had these emphases as the focus, preached by men whose lives were a living emphasis on this focus.
Make the switch. Call yourself to a more gospel-centered devotional time rather than one that provides the sort of quick fulfillment that junk food does. If that's the effect it had on me, chances are, you can relate. Check out my blog Gospel Resources at http://gospelresources.blogspot.com for resources to use in your gospel-centered devotions.