Devotion

A few years ago, I wrote a short, little book called “364 Days of Thanksgiving.”

If I’m honest, it was more of a journal than a book. The point of the book was to encourage the reader to write down one thing each day for which they were thankful to God. The only catch was that they could never repeat. They had to think of something new or different every day.

After a few brief chapters explaining the concept, the rest of the book was simply a journal – empty lines on which you could write down each day what you were thankful for.

A friend quipped at the time, “If I knew I could write a book with a bunch of lines in it and it would become a best-seller, I would have done it.”

In my defense, the book also did include 26 short devotions interspersed throughout the journal which were meant to help the reader to recognize all the good things God had given them. At the time, a number of people asked why I didn’t write a devotion for each day of the journal.

I thought to myself, “It would take forever to write 364 devotions.”

It turns out it only took me eight years. So now I am about to release my second book “364 Days of Devotion,” which, like my first book, is a daily thanksgiving journal. This one, however, also includes a devotion for every day of the year. Suffice it to say, my friend can no longer complain that I wrote a book full of empty lines.

But as I compiled the 364 devotions for the book, it got me thinking about that word “devotion.”

Devotion can mean many different things. According to Webster, devotion can be “an act of prayer or private worship,” “religious fervor,” “a religious exercise,” or simply “being ardently dedicated and loyal” to someone or something.

What would 364 days of devotion look like?

What would it mean to live a life of devotion? Well, first of all, a life of devotion is a life in which “prayer and private worship” are a daily routine. Devotion to God means devotion to his Word and prayer. Taking time every day to read and meditate on a part of God’s Word – taking time to talk to God every day in prayer – is actually what my book is all about.

But, devotion is more than simply taking a few minutes each day to read and pray. Devotion is also “religious fervor” or “religious exercise.” In other words, devotion is the desire to live what you learn from God – to stretch and exercise your faith throughout the day and throughout the week.

Devotion is “being ardently dedicated and loyal” to our Savior God. It means appreciating how devoted our God has been to us. Jesus was so ardently dedicated and loyal to us that he gave up everything to live a humble life and die a terrible death in your place. Jesus was so ardently dedicated and loyal to us that he suffered the punishment we deserve for our half-hearted devotion to him.

In the end, devotion means living every day of our lives for him who lived and died for us.

You can order my new book 364 Days of Devotion at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Northwestern Publishing House. NPH is also offering both books as a package deal for 20% off here.

Half-Empty

Do you consider yourself to be a glass is half-empty or a glass is half-full type of person?

We use that expression to distinguish between those who look at the world positively and those who look at it negatively.

Glass is half-empty type of people are the Eeyores of our world. They notice every pain and problem. When challenges come, they slump their shoulders in disgust and say, “It figures.” They look ahead to the future with dread, worried about all the negative things that could possibly happen in their lives.

Glass is half-full type of people see the good, even in the bad. They see the silver linings. They consider challenges to be opportunities to grow. They look ahead to the future with joyful anticipation.

God has made each of us different. Some people by nature have a more positive disposition; others naturally tend to be Eeyores.

The nature of faith, however, is to look to the future with confidence.

The nature of faith is to rejoice even in the sufferings. The nature of faith is to see the silver linings God has drawn on the dark clouds of our lives.

Now, that doesn’t mean that as Christians we naively look at the world through rose-colored glasses. We recognize the presence of evil in our world. We experience pain. We struggle with sin. But we also know God’s promise that he will make all things – even the struggles and heartaches – work out for our eternal good (Romans 8:28). We know that God has plans we cannot even begin to fathom – plans to prosper us and not to harm us (Jeremiah 29:11). We know that, no matter what happens to us here on earth, we have a home waiting for us in the glory and perfection of heaven through faith in Jesus.

If you struggle with negativity and depression, God has help for you.

When we find ourselves in the dark place of depression, the devil tries to get us to put on blinders so that all we see are the negatives in our lives. All we see are the problems.

A friend of mine, who is a mental health care counselor, once gave me a wonderful tool to help remove those blinders. He said to take a notebook and place it by your bed. Every night before you go to bed, write down one blessing – one good thing in your life – from that day. The only catch is you can never repeat. It always has to be something different.

What naturally happens, as the days turn into weeks – as your list fills lines and entire notebooks – is that you begin to see that, even in the middle of pains and problems, God has given you many good things. Even if you are struggling financially, look at all the “stuff” you have. Even if you feel lonely, look at all the people God has placed in your life. Even if you have health problems, look at all the things that are going right in your body.

Then remember how God forgives you for every mess-up and mistake. Remember how he promises to make even the dark clouds work out for your good. Remember his promise of how wonderful heaven is going to be.

You’re glass isn’t half-empty. It isn’t even half-full.

It is overflowing.