Daily Devotional Reading
Many Christian women recognize that daily devotional reading from the Bible is important. Few would dispute the fact that spending time getting to know God and His Word on a daily basis is foundational for a strong spiritual life. Most have every intention of making time for such matters. However, including another activity into an already stressful schedule may seem impossible. Many attempt to set aside time, only to have it consumed by other urgent matters. How many have begun a chapter-a-day checklist for reading through the Bible, only to fall away after a few weeks? Guilt can creep in, transforming time with God that should be considered a joyful privilege into just another chore.
In the book of Genesis, it is noted almost casually that God was walking in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day. Although it is not stated explicitly, those words imply that this was a normal occurrence. Perhaps Adam and Eve were in the habit of meeting with God on a daily basis and enjoying His company. That day, Adam and Eve were hiding in the garden, overcome with shame and fear. They had sinned. Now they hesitated to meet with the One who had told them that taking fruit from a certain tree in the Garden would lead to death. They did not realize that He knew exactly where they were, physically and spiritually, and wanted to meet with them anyway, so that confession of sin and reconciliation could begin.
Each individual starts a relationship with God at this same place of recognizing sin and turning to God for forgiveness. Assuming that a Christian is conscious of having sins atoned for by the cross of Christ, what could hinder this precious time with her Heavenly Father? A common complaint is that there simply is no time. Many women are employed outside the home, and daily rush to complete the multitude of things which need to be done in order to also keep their family life running smoothly. Cooking, cleaning, food shopping, laundry, driving children to various sports or club activities -- not to mention spending time with a spouse -- all these are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to things she may need and want to do. A daily devotional for women may seem like an impossible goal.
Even women who do not work outside the home are often overwhelmed with many responsibilities and expectations. One woman remarked incredulously that a 'working' friend of hers seemed to assume that her life was a life of relaxation interspersed with bouts of making crafts! The reality is that each woman's situation is busy and she must set priorities and goals so that necessary chores are accomplished . Remember, the worth of what is accomplished is not measured by whether one meets others' expectations, but by whether it is pleasing in the sight of God. Schedules can easily be filled with a multitude of activities that clamor for attention and leave little time for daily devotional reading. Choose to do the things that are most important. Check to make sure that the activities chosen are of lasting value. A daily devotional for women can help a person to keep an eternal perspective.
Chores are not the most important things to be accomplished, by any means. The influence of a godly woman upon her family can be immeasurable. However, in order to be that godly woman, she needs to spend time with God's Word, so that the character traits and values which are of great importance to Him will become evident in her life as well. Even fifteen minutes a day can add up to significant gains in the knowledge of God's Word and its application to one's life. When spiritual matters are put into proper perspective, other matters seem to fall into place. Problems and difficulties will still arise, but spending time in daily devotional reading will give strength to deal with these matters in the proper way. Far from being just another one of many activities, a daily devotional for women can provide the strength and inspiration for completing other activities and living a relationship with others that is pleasing in the sight of God and brings Him much glory.
Aside from all of the above are the marvelous treasures one can learn from the Word of God. People in Bible days experienced all of the same trials and emotions which are common to man. Read Biblical accounts with a you-are-there approach, noting what the results of particular actions were, and imagining how one might respond in similar circumstances. For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope. (Romans 15:4) This verse teaches us that a person may obtain learning, comfort, and hope from his or her study of the Bible. The things a woman learns in her daily devotional reading may be of great help and comfort to others as well.
There are a multitude of materials available online for daily devotional reading. These usually provide a short Scripture passage, followed by some remarks upon the meaning of the passage or its application to life. More extensive Bible studies are also online. Be careful to note the doctrine being taught, for there are some commentators who seek to shape Bible passages unto their own purposes, rather than conform their lives to Biblical teachings. Books comprised of a daily devotional for women are also easily located at Christian bookstores or online. Sometimes these books are even focused upon certain segments of women readers, like young mothers, older women or women who work outside the home. These books can be helpful, especially when someone is beginnning to establish the habit of daily Bible reading. However, a person may also simply read the Bible and meet with the One who desires to walk with His people.
Short Bible DevotionsWith so many short Bible devotions available to the consumer, just about anyone can find the perfect book to fit his or her needs. Browsing through the available selections, one can find devotional books geared to a variety of different markets. These may be divided by hobbies, professions, sports activities, relationships, or by age group. Bible devotions for children, for new moms, for runners and walkers, for married couples and those who are single -- all these and more fill the bookstore shelves and publishers' catalogs.
Many different studies focus on specific Biblical events, characters, doctrines, or themes. For example, short Bible devotions can be found for those struggling with the difficulties of infertility, the aftermath of divorce, and the empty nest. Others celebrate the joys of high school or college graduation, marriage, and becoming a new parent or grandparent. For those seeking deeper Biblical knowledge, studies are available based on such topics as the lessons that can be learned from Old Testament heroes (or villains) or the women who are named in the Bible. From the lives, mistakes, choices, and good deeds of these people, readers can gain a deeper understanding of how to respond to the good and bad times they are experiencing while seeking spiritual growth. They also learn, in an entertaining way, that it was king Saul who visited the witch of Endor and Balaam who was rebuked by a donkey.
Perhaps the most well-known and popular of the short Bible devotions is Oswald Chambers' classic, My Utmost for His Highest. First published in 1927, the devotions, one for each day of the year, are based on the notes Biddy Chambers, Oswald's wife, took of his lectures. Chambers' insights on numerous topics may be brief, but they are not mere fluff. His readers definitely will find themselves digging deep into God's Word and into their own hearts as they ponder the truths found in Chambers' writings. This is such a powerful book that readers often start over at the end of the year and read it again. The classic has proved so beneficial over the years that it has been translated into thirty-six languages.
People read short Bible devotions for a variety of reasons, but primarily to develop a close spiritual relationship with God. They embrace the psalmist's reason for study: "Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee" (Psalm 119:11). Such books may either begin or end each day's selection with a Scripture passage and includes the author's thoughts both on the Scripture and on the book's theme. The selected Scripture should be carefully selected by the author so that the passage and the author's comments support and enhance each other. Popular works are formatted in different ways. Some include a devotion for each day of the month; others include a devotion for each day of the year. Still others may not be limited to a specific period of time, but have the number of devotions required by the author's publisher. (This relates to the printing costs of varying number of pages.)
Couples, friends, and family members may choose to go through a devotional book together. The goal of these groups is to increase their relationship with God and with each other. Two or three people may get together to hold each other accountable for a specific issue the group is facing. Parents often choose Bible devotions for children so that the entire family can benefit from studying together. By establishing this practice when the children are young, the parents are helping them establish good habits for Bible reading and study. Devotions that are geared to the child's age will be written in a vocabulary that the child can understand. The parents can use the stories as teaching tools to instill positive characteristics into their family dynamics.
With the technology available today, Bible devotions aren't limited to books. Savvy internet users can log in to a multitude of websites to read devotional thoughts by famous preachers such as Charles Spurgeon. Those interested in online studies can sign up to have devotions from a selected source delivered to their email address. There is even a website that delivers Bible devotions for children in an audio format. Boys and girls can listen to Bible stories that teach an important truth from God's Word.
An important aspect of any good devotional, whether found in a book, on a website, in an email, or heard through the computer's speakers, is the takeaway. This is the moral truth or lesson that a person can apply to his or her own life. The skillful writer, whether of a book or an audio script, presents the takeaway in a subtle manner so that the reader doesn't feel preached at or pounded upon by a self-righteous know-it-all. The intent is not to tear people down, but to offer God's compassion and present His teaching on the particular topic.
No matter what a person's interests, hobbies, or activities, his profession or marital status, her deepest concerns or aching difficulty, there are certainly short Bible devotions to meet the reader's need. For parents, Bible devotions for children are available in a variety of formats to help the child develop the habit of studying God's Word and improve her knowledge of Biblical events. By doing devotions together, family members and friends grow closer to God and to one another in their spiritual walk.