“Devotions” or Devotion?

I just had to share this amazing video teaching by the late Keith Green. It is based on teachings by Charles Finney on what true Devotion looks like. The video is really great and below is a summary of the video teaching taken from the Last Day Ministries website. May you be blessed. by Charles G. Finney Edited and paraphrased by Keith and Melody Green “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” -I Cor. 10:31

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father… whatever you do, do it heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men. -Col. 3:17,23 “For not one of us lives for himself, and not one dies for himself; for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.” -Rom. 14:7-8

These Scriptures reveal the true nature of what devotion to God really is. In discussing this subject, I propose to show: I. What true devotion to God is not. II. What true devotion to God is. III. That devotion, and nothing short of devotion, is true Christianity. IV. Several mistakes commonly made upon this subject.

I. What True Devotion To God Is Not.

  1. Devotion does not consist of reading the Bible, nor praying, nor attending meetings. These may or may not be specific instances of devotion, but are not to be regarded as devotion itself.
  2. Devotion does not consist of a private or public commitment of our lives to God. These are to be regarded as special acts – pledges or promises of devotion – but not as devotion itself.
  3. Devotion does not consist of individual acts or exercises of any kind. These may indeed be devotional acts, that is, “acts of devotion,” but let it be remembered that no acts or exercises in themselves constitute devotion.

II. What True Devotion To God Is.

Devotion is that state of the heart in which everything – our whole life, being, and possessions – are a continual offering to God, that is, they are continually devoted to God. True devotion must be the supreme devotion of the will, extending out to all we have and are – to all times, places, employments, thoughts, and feelings. Let your own ideas of what a pastor ought to be illustrate my meaning. You most likely believe that a pastor, in preaching the Gospel, should have only one purpose in mind – to glorify God by the salvation (and later the sanctification) of sinners. Since he professes to be a servant of God, you feel that he ought to study, preach, and perform all his ministerial duties, not for himself, not for his salary, not to increase his popularity, but only to glorify God. Now you can easily see that if he does not have this singleness of eye, his service cannot be acceptable to God. For it is not an offering to God, it is not a devotion to God – but a devotion to himself. Devotion then, in a pastor, is that state of mind in which all his pastoral duties are performed for the glory of God and where his whole life is a continual offering to God. Again, you feel that a minister ought to be as devoted to God in everything else as he is in praying or preaching – and in this you are right! For he not only ought to be, but really is only as devoted in the pulpit as he is out of the pulpit. If he is influenced by selfish and worldly motives during the week, then these same motives are surely in his heart on the Sabbath. If during the week his thoughts are centered upon his own interests, endeavoring to promote himself, you can be sure it’s the same on the Sabbath. You most likely also feel that if a minister’s devotion is merely an outward farce – that he preaches, prays, visits, and performs all his duties mainly for the purpose of supporting his family, or to get honor and attention for himself – you would say that he was a wicked man, and unless he is converted he would inevitably lose his soul. If these are your views on the subject, they are undoubtedly correct. Here, where you have no personal interest, you form a right judgment and decide correctly concerning the character and destiny of such a man. Now remember, nothing short of this standard is devotion in you! Bear it in mind that no particular acts or zeal or gushings of emotion – or resolutions to change, or promises of future obedience – constitute devotion. For devotion is that state of the will in which the mind is swallowed up in God as the object of its supreme affection – in which we not only live and move in God, but for God. In other words, devotion is that state of mind in which the attention is diverted from self and self-seeking, and is directed to God – the thoughts, purposes, desires, affections, and emotions all hanging upon, and devoted to, Him.

III. Devotion, And Nothing Short Of Devotion, Is True Christianity.

Devotion and true religion are identical.

  1. It is impossible for us not to be devoted to the object of our supreme affection. If we love God supremely, He will be the reason for which we live. If an individual loves God supremely, he will be as conscious that he lives for God as that he lives at all!
  2. Nothing short of this can be acceptable to God. Unless devotion be a habit or a state of mind, unless the whole being be an offering to God, He must have a rival in our hearts. This He will not endure. And to attempt to please Him by isolated acts of devotion (when it is not the habit and state of our minds) is far more abominable than for a wife to attempt to please her husband with an occasional smile, while she lives only to please and gain the affections of another man.
  3. A departure from this state is heart-apostasy. Whatever a man’s outward behavior may be, the moment he turns aside from sincere devotion to God – from a supreme consecration of his whole being to the service of God – he has, in his heart, renounced true Christianity. He is no longer in the service of God, but is serving the object upon which his heart is set; and this is the object of his devotion – that is, it is his god.

IV. Several Mistakes Commonly Made Upon This Subject.

  1. Many imagine that there is a real difference between “devotional” and other kinds of duties – as if a man could be “doing his duty” in that which is not devotion to God. The duties of devotion are generally supposed to be prayer and reading the Scriptures, together with singing and praying in the fellowship of God’s House. On the Sabbath, men imagine themselves to be devotional, while on weekdays (except for those few acts they call their “devotions”) they are serving themselves and are supremely devoted to their own interests. Now all such ideas arise out of a total absence of true devotion; and individuals who entertain such views do not yet understand what true Christianity is. Nothing is “duty” if it is performed for God. A man that is truly religious is as devotional in his daily business as he is on the Sabbath. The business of the world is performed by him with the same spirit and purpose as he prays, reads his Bible, and attends worship on the Sabbath. If this is not the case, he has no true religion.
  2. Now there are some people who really live for God and are obviously in a devotional state of mind, who do not seem to realize that every act devoted to God is as acceptable to Him as prayer or praise. If by necessary responsibilities they are kept from spending much time in prayer or going to a lot of meetings, Satan takes advantage of their ignorance and brings them into bondage. He tries to persuade them that they are neglecting their duties to God by attending to other things.  Now you who are devoted to God, should understand that if His providence should confine you at home to nurse the sick, or prevents you from observing those hours of secret prayer that you are used to keeping, you are not to be brought into bondage or condemnation by this – if you are conscious that these other duties are being done for the Lord.
  3. Others think that devotion can be sincere, but yet extend only to certain duties. That is, that a man may pray sincerely and from right motives, and yet be worldly in the transaction of business. Now a little reflection will convince any honest mind that this is naturally impossible. Devotion to God cannot be sincere any further than it annihilates selfishness. Devotion and selfishness are eternal opposites.
  4. Many mistake the religion of emotion for that of the will. You can see this from their lives – they weep and appear to melt and break down. They promise to change and offer entire consecration to God. But attempt to do business with them the very next day, and you will find them supremely selfish – they are not devoted to God at all, but to their own interests. They are ready to take any advantage, even of their brethren, to benefit themselves. Now it is obvious in this case that their melting and breaking down was merely a gushing of their emotions – not a will surrendered and devoted to God.

Some Helpful Remarks

  1. A spirit of devotion will turn the most constant cares and the most pressing labors into the deepest and most constant communion with God. The more pressing and tedious our duties – if they are performed for God – the deeper and more continual our communion with Him. For whatever is done in a spirit of devotion is communion with God.
  2. They are not Christians, who do not hold communion with God in their ordinary employments. If you do not hold conscious communion with God in your ordinary business, it is because your business is not performed in a spirit of devotion. If not performed in a spirit of devotion, it is sin. For “whatever is not of faith is sin.” (Rom. 14:23)
  3. They are certainly not in a sanctified state, who cannot attend to the ordinary and lawful business of life without being drawn away from God.
  4. Whatever cannot be done in a spirit of devotion is unlawful. If you feel the inconsistency of performing it as an act of devotion to God, it is unlawful – you, yourself being the judge.
  5. Anything not right or wrong in itself may be either right or wrong, according to whether or not it is done in a spirit of devotion. Therefore…
  6. A selfish man may condemn a godly person for doing something that would be sinful if he, himself did it – because the motives of his heart are all wrong. The selfish man assumes that the other person’s behavior is also wrongly motivated. On the other hand, a sanctified person may give credit to a selfish person when it is not due, taking it for granted that, “when the act is right, the motive is right.”
  7. There is no peace of mind but in a state of devotion. No other state of mind is reasonable. In no other state will the powers of the mind harmonize. In any other state than that of devotion to God, there is an inward struggle, and mutiny and strife in the mind itself. The conscience rebukes the heart for selfishness. Hence, “‘There is no peace for the wicked, ‘says the Lord.”(Isaiah 48:22)
  8. They have “perfed peace whose minds are thus stayed upon God” (Isaiah 26:3) in an attitude of constant devotion. It is impossible that they should not have peace, for devotion implies and includes peace.
  9. And now beloved, do you have the spirit of true devotion? Do not reply, “I hope so,” for nothing but a conscious awareness should satisfy you for a moment. If you are devoted to God, you know it – and if you are not conscious of being devoted to God, it is because you are not devoted.

“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life.” (Gal. 6:7-8)

(Article Edited and paraphrased by Keith and Melody Green) ©Last Days Ministries. All rights reserved.

God is Searching for Extraordinary Disciples – Are you One?

The eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him. 2 Chronicles 16:9

God is looking for men and women whose hearts are firmly fixed on Him and who will continually trust Him for all He desired to do with their lives.  God is ready and eager to work more powerfully than ever through His people, and the clock of the centuries is striking the eleventh hour. 

The world is watching and waiting to see what God can do through a life committed to Him.  And not only is the world waiting but God Himself awaits to see who will be the most completely devoted person who has ever lived: willing to be nothing so Christ may be everything; fully accepting God purposes as his own; receiving Christ’s humility, faith, love and power yet never hindering Gods plan but always allowing him to continue His miraculous work. 

There is no limit to what God can do through you, provided you do not seek your own glory. 

George Mueller at more than 90 years of age, in an address to ministers and other Christian workers, said, “ I was converted in November 1825, but I didn’t come to the point of total surrender of my heart until four years later, in July 1827.  It was then I realized my love for money, prominence, position, power and worldly pleasure was gone.  God and he alone, became my all in all.  I him I found everything I needed and I desired nothing else.  By Gods grace, my understanding of His sufficiency has remained to this day, making me an exceedingly happy man.  It has lead me to care only about the things of God.  And so dear believers, I kindly ask if you have totally surrendered your heart to God, or is there something in your life you refuse to release, in spite of Gods call? 

Before the point at which I surrendered my life, I read a little of the scriptures but preferred other books.  Yet since that time, the truth He has revealed to me of Himself has become an inexpressible blessing.  Now I can honestly say from the depth of my heart that God is an infinitely wonderful being.”

My prayer today is that God would make me an extraordinary Christian.  

 

Source Streams in the Desert

Golden Nuggets on Marriage

Today at work, we started reading “The Cost of Discipleship”  written by Bonhoeffer.  I was so excited when I found out we were going to read it because he is one of my favorite Christian celebrities if I may call him such.  He was a single man that never married. He was imprisoned by Hitler after conspiring in a plot to kill the evil ruler.  His life ended in April of 1943 at a the young age of 39.

Although he never married, he did leave behind a fiance.  His deep spiritual insight and commitment to God allowed him to write such profound statements on marriage as the ones you will read below.  And as mentioned by many, most of these writings were done while he was captive in prison awaiting his promotion to heaven.  I pray you are blessed and moved by one mans insight on the sanctity, the structure and the reason for marriage as he bases it on Gods Holy Word (Logos).  Mariana

Marriage is more than your love for each other

“Marriage is more than your love for each other. . . . In your love you see only the heaven of your own happiness, but in marriage you are placed at a post of responsibility towards the world and mankind. Your love is your own private possession, but marriage is more than something personal—it is a status, and office. Just as it is the crown, and not merely the will to rule, that makes the king, so it is marriage, and not merely your love for each other, that joins you together in the sight of God and man.” Letters and Papers from Prison, 27.

Marriage is for God’s glory

“‘Welcome one another . . . for the glory of God.’ That is God’s word for your marriage. Thank him for it; thank him for leading you thus far; ask him to establish your marriage, to confirm it, sanctify it, and preserve it. So your marriage will be ‘for the praise of his glory.’” Letters and Papers from Prison, 32.

Marriage is from above

“As you gave the ring to one another and have now received it a second time from the hand of the pastor, so love comes from you, but marriage from above, from God. As high as God is above man, so high are the sanctity, the rights, and the promise of love. It is not your love that sustains the marriage, but from now on, the marriage that sustains your love.” Letters and Papers from Prison, 27–28

The effects of the fall on marriage

“Over the destiny of woman and of man lies the dark shadow of a word of God’s wrath, a burden from God, which they must carry. The woman must bear her children in pain, and in providing for his family the man must reap many thorns and thistles, and labor in the sweat of his brow. This burden should cause both man and wife to call on God, and should remind them of their eternal destiny in his kingdom. Earthly society is only the beginning of the heavenly society, the earthly home an image of the heavenly home, the earthly family a symbol of the fatherhood of God.” Letters and Papers from Prison, 31

Forgiveness in marriage

“In a word, live together in the forgiveness of your sins, for without it no human fellowship, least of all a marriage, can survive.” Letters and Papers from Prison, 31

Conflict resolution

“God gives you Christ as the foundation of your marriage. ‘Welcome one another, therefore, as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God’ (Rom. 15:7). . . . Don’t insist on your rights, don’t blame each other, don’t judge or condemn each other, don’t find fault with each other, but accept each other as you are, and forgive each other every day from the bottom of your hearts.” Letters and Papers from Prison, 31–32

Husband as head

“Now when the husband is called ‘the head of the wife,’ and it goes on to say ‘as Christ is the head of the church’ (Eph. 5:23), something of the divine splendor is reflected in our earthly relationships, and this reflection we should recognize and honor. The dignity that is here ascribed to the man lies, not in any capacities or qualities of his work but in the office conferred on him by his marriage. The wife should see her husband clothed in this dignity. But for him it is supreme responsibility.” Letters and Papers from Prison, 30

The rule of marriage: love and submission

“God establishes a rule of life by which you can live together in wedlock: ‘Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives’ (Col. 3:18, 19). With your marriage you are founding a home. That needs a rule of life, and this rule of life is so important that God establishes it himself, because without it everything would be out of joint. You may order your home as you like, except in one thing: the wife is to be subject to her husband and the husband is to love his wife.” Letters and Papers from Prison, 28

Marriage is part of God’s greater plan

“Marriage is more than your love for each other. It has a higher dignity and power, for it is God’s holy ordinance, through which he wills to perpetuate the human race till the end of time. In your love you see only your two selves in the world, but in marriage you are a link in the chain of the generations, which God causes to come and to pass away to his glory, and calls into his kingdom.” Letters and Papers from Prison, 27

Joining together in marriage is God’s act

God makes your marriage indissoluble. ‘What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder’ (Matt 19:6). God joins you together in marriage; it is his act, not yours.” Letters and Papers from Prison, 28

God sustains marriage

“God makes your marriage indissoluble, and protects it from every danger that may threaten it from within and without; he will be the guarantor of its indissolubility. It is a blessed thing to know that no power on earth, no temptation, no human frailty can dissolve what God holds together; indeed, anyone who knows that may say confidently: What God has joined together, can no man put asunder. Free from all the anxiety that is always a characteristic of love, you can now say to each other with complete and confident assurance: We can never lose each other now; by the will of God we belong to each other till death.” Letters and Papers from Prison, 28

Sources:

Gospel Doctrine

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison, ed. Eberhard Bethge (New York:Macmillan, 1967)