Saturday, January 7, 2017

The importance of devotional books and Christian spiritual biographies in one's daily quiet time

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Romans 15:4 "For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."

The place of devotionals in one's daily quiet time with God
Today we consider the importance and place of looking to the scriptures and to the insights of past saints in building one's devotional life. Particularly, whenever we want to fortify our personal time with God, certain so-called "devotional writers" can greatly deepen one's walk with God. As the Apostle Paul was composing the Book of Romans, he often quoted from the Old Testament. The Old Testament was not only used to make certain theological points in Paul's letter, but certain people from the Old Testament were used to reinforce his points. 

Although Paul is referring mainly to the value of the Old Testament scriptures in the above text, he nonetheless brings forth a general principle concerning insights from past generations of Christians. This principle of the spiritual lives of past saints can be used to add concrete to our personal devotional life. Today's post aims to offer some thoughts on the importance of devotional books and spiritual biographies in one's daily quiet time.

A dwarf standing on the shoulders of giants
Over the years I have used devotional writers to guide my thinking, praying and Bible reading. To me, whenever I read the insights of past generations, I feel like a dwarf standing on the shoulders of a giant. 

Recently I finished reading for a second time A.W Tozer's book: "The Pursuit of God." It amazes me how much the book affects me now versus when I first read it over ten years ago. My faith is still stretched by men like Tozer who walked in places with God that I have yet to walk. This year I plan on adding more Christian spiritual biographies to my devotional diet. Admittedly, I tend to oftentimes get too cranial in my Christian walk. What I need is a balance of the heart and mind. I have in my possession Charles Stanley's new autobiography. Even though I have only gotten into the first chapter, I'm already learning so much at the feet of this great man of God. 

Certainly there are several examples of devotional books and literature that could be mentioned. Oswald Chambers' classic devotional book: "My Utmost For His Highest" features one-page devotionals for every day of the year. This amazing book has been a blessing to me in times past. Chambers wrote in such a way as to be verging on the prophetic (meaning, he could penetrate the heart of the subject while penetrating the reader's heart as well, delivering personal, spiritually-illuminating exhortations). Other writers such as Richard Foster, St. John of Damascus, Augustine, Martin Luther, Jonathan Edwards and others will stretch the heart and mind when given full attention

Closing thoughts
As you and I hopefully aim to draw closer to God this year, we ought to consider utilizing a devotional in our quiet times. There will be those times of course when we find ourselves wanting to work our way through the scriptures unencumbered by the thoughts of others. Christian devotional books or autobiographies can add freshness to our daily walk with God. The principle of recalling what other saints of God of times past have learned can greatly inform our own Christian walk in this 21st century world.