Will You Have Steak or Baby Food for Devotions?

“If you desire to pull out of God’s Word the serious ‘meat’ that he has placed there for us to sink our teeth into-you will have to exert considerable effort.  It takes work-hard work!  And you, the reader, have to decide whether you are content to swallow ‘baby food’ that comes from casual reading or whether you want to work for the ‘mature food’ that comes from serious reading.” Scott Duvall, Daniel hays 

Every morning after a few cups of coffee I get out my Bible for devotions fully expecting to feast on the “steak” of God’s word…so why do I get “baby food” instead?

 Scott Duvall and Daniel Hays in their excellent book on Biblical interpretation “Grasping God’s Word” say the reason we find strained-peas instead of steak is we don’t “observe the text”

One of the most critical skills needed in reading the Bible is the ability to see the details.  Most of us read the Bible too quickly, and we skip over the details of the text.  However, the meaning of the Bible is intertwined in the details of every sentence.

Duvall and Hays point out most of us in devotions move directly from initial reading to application which “ties us to our previous understanding of the text” (the baby food) and ignores the steak of God’s Word.

The kind of reading that digs into the t-bone steak of Scripture is one that doesn’t ask “what does the text mean?”  but “what does the text say?”

And the kind of reading that pays attention to details:

  1. Like repetition of words
  2. Contrasts
  3. Comparisons
  4. Lists
  5. Cause and Effect
  6. Figures of speech
  7. Conjunctions
  8. Verbs
  9. and Pronouns

For most of us this serious reading means going through less than one chapter for devotions instead of reading three of them.  But that’s okay because ten-verses of a spiritual t-bone steak beats three-chapters of gerbers any day.

What tools have you found that helps reveal the “steak” of God’s Word during devotions?

The Hard Work of Practical Holiness

The afternoon before leaving for Saint Vincent as a full-time missionary I began reading a book that would change my daily spiritual walk more than any other by teaching me about Practical Holiness.

It only took a few pages before a paragraph grabbed my attention.

“My anger turned to utter discouragement.  It was only 8:30 in the morning and my day was already ruined.  Not only was I discouraged but I was confused  “

“The Pursuit of Holiness”  by Jerry Bridges had been on my kindle for months but I never began reading it…I believe this was because God knew I would be without internet the first three-weeks in Barrouallie.  There was lots of time to sit on the front porch reading Pursuit of Holiness, and each short chapter brought conviction along with hope.

There are countless lessons in Bridges book, but the my favorite is found in chapter three;

Holiness is hard work;  We don’t make ourselves more Holy in our own strength, but rely on the Holy Spirits leading through God’s Word.     without a serious commitment we won’t experience practical Holiness.

Somehow the idea of Holiness involving “work” seems foreign to us, or even sinful!  But we do have a responsibility in Holiness

Positional Holiness:

Positional Holiness is what Bridges says comes from Romans 5:1–9

  1. Through Christ we have access into the presence of God (Romans 5:1-2)
  2. When we couldn’t earn God’s love Christ gave Himself for us (Romans 5:6-8)
  3. Instead of enemies of God we are reconciled (restored) to Him as children (Romans 5:9-10)
  4. All of this comes through the atonement of Christ (Romans 5:11)

However even with the Positional Holiness in Christ we still struggle with sin as Bridges illustrates with his own anger issues in the first chapter.

The answer in is found in Romans 6:11

Rom. 6:11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. (emphasis added)

The word “reckon” is a choice or “deciding” we are dead to sin .  In this situation our freedom from sin isn’t based on our own strength, but we are going out of our way to ACT on the finished work of Christ.

Specifically this means breaking the old habits of sin, and creating new habits based on Scripture.

Since returning to Barrouallie I’ve found myself coming back to The Pursuit of Holiness time after time as a reminder that my Positional Holiness in Christ doesn’t take away the responsibility of Practical Holiness.

This book (along with it’s companion Respectable Sins) have helped me begin create a theology of Practical Holiness.  What books, articles, or authors do you believe would help me in building this theology?