This is the first of three blogs on the importance of Christians setting apart a time in their schedule - every single day - to have “personal devotions” (or what some call a “quiet time”) by seeking God in prayer and by reading His Word.
Along with gathering together for corporate worship of the Triune God in the local Church, daily devotions are a crucial means for us to “grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). Each day, it is vital for the health of God’s people to read through a portion of the Bible, and to commune with our God through prayer by giving Him praise for who He is, thanking Him for what He has done for us through Christ, confessing our sins, as well as making supplications and requests, based on the Scriptures. But before we talk about HOW to do personal devotions, we need to further establish WHY Christians must regularly seek the Lord through prayer and His Word.
It is absolutely essential for Christians to draw near to their God each and every day, for one main reason: the primary purpose of our salvation is fellowship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ!
Your salvation, O Christian, is more than just being saved from hell and saved from sin. While those are extremely important aspects of your salvation, the main reason God has saved you is to fellowship with Him in an intimate, love relationship. Yes, brothers and sisters, the Triune God desires to fellowship with you!
Listen to 1 Corinthians 1:9 make this point:
“God is faithful, through whom you have been called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Before we unpack the significance of fellowship with God’s Son, we should ask, “what does it mean when Paul says ‘you have been called’ by God?” At some point in your life, you heard the message of the gospel concerning the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and it no longer fell on deaf ears. Although God had been calling you outwardly, you were not answering the call. Until one day, the Holy Spirit called you inwardly by revealing to you your wretched condition, and showing you your desperate need for Jesus Christ as your only hope for life and salvation! The Spirit of God turned on the light switch in your soul, and opened the eyes of your heart to the irresistible beauty, greatness, power, love, and compassion of Jesus Christ. This inward call of salvation consisted of the Holy Spirit graciously giving you the desire for Christ! Although previously you did not have an appetite for Jesus, all of a sudden, you began to want Him - you were made to feel your need for Him. All of this is meant by the fact that you have been called by God in 1 Corinthians 1:9, or as Jesus says in John 6:44, you have “been drawn” by the Father to come to Christ. “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:44).
See, when God saved you, His Holy Spirit called you by giving you the gift of repentance and faith in order to turn away from trusting false gods and no longer living for yourself, but instead enabling you to trust in Christ (Acts 3:26; 1 Thess. 1:9-10). When the Spirit of God gave you the ability to believe in Christ, He united you to Christ like a branch attached to a tree (John 15:5). The Holy Spirit united you to Christ like a wife who is joined to her husband (1 Cor. 6:15-17). For this reason, the main way the Bible talks about your salvation is through the words, IN CHRIST. And IN CHRIST, that is, in your union with Christ, everything that Jesus has done for you, is YOURS, IN HIM (Eph. 1:3; Col. 2:9)! All that Jesus accomplished for us in redemptive history is then applied to us by His Holy Spirit when He saves us.
“Because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who has become wisdom for you from God - namely - righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.” (1 Cor. 1:30).
In Christ, you have the free gift of righteousness for justification, in which God counts you as righteous and not guilty. Jesus lived a perfect life in your place in order to fulfill the righteousness that God requires - and He has given this gift of righteousness to you, by faith in Him (Rom. 3:21-22; 5:19). Then Jesus suffered and died the death that you deserve by being punished by the wrath of God on the Cross on your behalf, and He was raised up from the dead three days later. Jesus was condemned on the Cross, as if He lived your sinful life - so that now you are as accepted by God as if you lived the perfect life of Jesus (2 Cor. 5:21). In Christ, you have redemption, which means “the release”, referring to the full forgiveness of sins (Col. 1:14): God will not count your sin against you, since He already counted it on Christ (Rom. 4:7-8; 8:1)!
Also in Christ, there is sanctification, meaning holiness, which is being set apart from sin. Jesus has destroyed the enslaving power of sin in your life, once for all, so that you can never, ever be a slave to sin again (Rom. 6:4-6). Sin no longer rules and reigns over you, to make you obey its lusts (Rom. 6:11)! Every day, His Holy Spirit is progressively changing your heart and making you more and more like Jesus Christ (Rom. 8:29; 2 Cor. 3:18).
Also, in Christ, you have adoption - you are a loved, accepted, child of God, and the Son of God shares His inheritance of a new resurrection body, and the new heavens and the new earth, with you (Rom. 8:14-17)! Moreover, in Christ, you receive the fellowship of His sufferings: just as Jesus was rejected and persecuted by this world, so will you be, as you resist sinful temptation and Satan, just as He did. (Philippians 1:29; 3:10).
But as wonderful as all these benefits and blessings of salvation are - they are all a means to an end. They are the road to the destination’s end point. These blessings are meant to bring you to the goal: CHRIST! Because of the benefits of salvation, you get to come to the Benefactor! Now you can come to Christ every day for a close, intimate love-relationship, because you have been justified (See Rom. 5:1-2). Now you have been washed clean in His blood, and you are clothed before Him in His perfect righteousness. You can come to Christ every day, because He has changed your heart for you to begin to desire Him more and more - and the more you come to Him, the more He will cause you to desire Him and conform you to His image! You can come to His Father, through God the Son, because you are a loved child of God! Do you see how the more we know about Christ’s salvation, the more we will desire to draw near to Him, to know Him?
In this way, you should see your devotion time with God as a child sitting on the lap of his/her loving Father. As you read His Word, you are hearing the voice of your Father speak to you. In response, you are invited to speak back to Him in prayer, which He delights to receive from you - because your prayers come to Him through His Beloved Son!
In summary, our salvation is primarily about fellowship with God’s Son, Jesus Christ, in an intimate personal relationship.
Next time, we will look at how this close communion and love relationship with God’s Son is at the heart of what the Bible calls "covenant." In our third blog we will look at practical ways for how to do devotions, and what they mean for our relationship with God’s people in the local Church.
Here is a free download to a song by Timothy Brindle about daily seeking God in His Word, called "The Daily Gospel"